Friday afternoon ... the weekend is just around the corner. The latest news on the VW environmental scandal is on the radio. The traffic light on the construction site is red, oncoming traffic is rolling past the Saab. 7 out of 10 vehicles are SUVs. Blogger out and about in Kathmandu?
No! The place of the action is a small Franconian village. Well-developed streets shape the townscape. The off-road vehicles are not on their way to the base camp; the biggest immediate challenge is overcoming the curb. And yes, there is this VW environmental scandal that is shaking the group due to the modular monoculture. As a German autoblog, you cannot ignore it. The roots of the scandal are deep. They are the result of 20 years, always bigger, ever stronger, ever harder. This is not an article about mistakes and omissions at VW. You can read enough about that elsewhere. It's about the species behind the wheel ...
Let's think back two decades! Upper middle class vehicles weighed 1.300 to 1.400 kilograms. 20 years later it is 2 tons. For a long time, off-road vehicles with the drag coefficient of a barn door were only moved by farmers and foresters. Today the streets are dominated by these vehicles, whose greatest challenge in automotive life is climbing the underground car park exit. Something goes wrong when more and more automobiles are used per person. Mass equals consumption, equals exhaust gas. A simple formula, physics cannot be tricked.
We all knew that something could not be right! If there is around 50% more consumption on the bill at the pump than in the manufacturer's data sheet, then alarm bells should ring. Actually ... But we, the buyers, didn't want to look. We accepted in silence; the subject of cars is very special in Germany because we invented it. The issue of consumption, and the associated quiet criticism, is at most at the regulars table, otherwise not. Because we want to believe what cannot be. Chasing the heavy diesel over the left lane at over 200 km / h, and environmentally friendly too? Puff cake! Bigger, stronger, heavier. All of this takes its toll. At the expense of the environment, future generations, our health.
One solution, as we read from countless comments on the environmental scandal these days, could be the electric car. Tesla is knocked around the ears of Wolfsburg as an innovative example. Seriously ! What is innovative at Tesla? To screw more than 8.000 notebook batteries under a car so that the 2.1 ton box can accelerate up to 4 human bodies through the Frankfurt rush hour traffic? 2.1 tons! The most innovative thing is the courage to do something like this. Tesla's next mischief is going to be an electric SUV. An overweight battery block with wing doors ...
It is forgotten in the heat of discussion that the production of an electric car puts a higher burden on the environment than the production of a conventional car. The general solution of the problem could be simple. The magic word: weight reduction.
Do we really need more than 2 tons of curb weight to be on the move with an automobile? There were smartly made cars in the 80s and 90s, and not just at Saab. But Saab 900 and 9000 are examples of this. Small turbo engines that deliver a lot of power on demand. Smart room concepts with a tailgate. They offered space for 5 people, a medium-sized move or the shopping of a large family. And yes, you could drive these cars on dirt roads. So without all-wheel drive and off-road vehicle mimicry. No, everything wasn't better in the past. But maybe smarter.
Things keep evolving. Techniques that save lives take their toll. They add more weight to our cars. Nobody should do without them in the future either. If human life can be protected, there must be no compromise.
But maybe the VW scandal could change something on both sides. Manufacturers could see the crisis as an opportunity. You might have the courage to build lighter, smarter cars. The materials for it exist, German manufacturers could show the world that there is more to our country than automobile dinosaurs. The Audi A2 was a beautiful, intelligent example of lightweight construction. Ahead of its time, a flop. But asked today.
The buyer himself should finally come of age. Use his intelligence to adapt the selection criteria of the next car smart to the needs and the responsibility for the environment. This also means that one may refuse. Not every trend makes sense. And not every mischief deserves the predicate innovation. Latest questionable innovation: Electric tailgates and trunk lid. Extra weight, a feature for a people with rampant muscle wasting.
Meanwhile, the Saab is in the supermarket parking lot. I invite the purchases for the weekend. Busy buzzing and clicking around me. Electric tailgates open and close in almost all of the new cars of the higher class. Comfort feature is called that. More weight, more CO2 and nitrogen oxides distributed over the car life. Rethinking has not started yet.