German OEMs say SCR refits for older diesels impossible

March 02, 2017

German automotive association the VDA has rejected the suggestion of retrofitting older diesels with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) systems to cut emissions, saying it would be ‘very complex and costly.’ German OEMs have even said it is ‘impossible’. Meanwhile, a survey has found that only one in four Germans would consider buying an electric vehicle (EV). 

The German auto industry, as well as car owners, are nervous about the upcoming introduction of diesel bans in cities like Stuttgart from 2018 and Düsseldorf. 

About 50% of cars in Germany are diesels, and the VDA estimates a maximum of 71.8% of these will be Euro 6-compliant by 2018, when the Stuttgart prohibitions on poor air quality days begin. A dealer association has already warned both new and used diesels have taken a 10-20% price hit from the news of the bans. 

The VDA said: ‘[Retrofitting] is hardly possible, especially for smaller vehicles, because of the small space available.’ 

BMW concurred that retrofitting cars with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR), which uses AdBlue (urea) to turn toxic NOx emissions to steam, ‘can not be implemented in principle, even with high financial expenditure, due to existing restrictions by the vehicle architecture.’ 

Daimler said a conversion was ‘not technically and economically meaningful’, and that: ‘From our point of view, this is not a viable solution for the customer and is therefore not recommended.’ 

Volkswagen Group brands, at the centre of the Dieselgate scandal, also agreed, with Audi and Porsche pouring cold water on the idea. 

However, in an omission that will add fire to their critics, none of the companies provided any information on the possible prices of what they say is a ‘complex’ procedure. 

BMW did give some ground, adding: ‘retrofit solutions’ would need to be examined on a case-by-case basis for each model and engine. 

Retrofitting would also require re-certification of the vehicles by authorities, which could take six months.  

However, in contrast to the VDA and German manufacturers, the German environmental protection association (DUH) considers retrofitting to be feasible. Their chief Jürgen Resch sees the scepticism of the car manufacturers as proof that they have no interest in the retrofit. 

Meanwhile, only one in four German drivers (26%) would consider buying an electric car, according to a survey of 1421 representative drivers by DEKRA, the German vehicle inspection agency. 

It found that 91% of drivers still find electric cars too expensive, 90% say there is a lack of charging stations, and 88% say the range of current electric vehicles is still too limited. 76% are also bothered by excessively long charging times. Even worse for electric cars, the promoted advantages of electric cars such as free parking and being allowed to use bus lanes only mattered to 25% of drivers. In addition, German government incentives such as the purchase subsidy of up to €4000 and a ten-year motor vehicle tax exemption only interest 53% of drivers surveyed.

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March 31, 2017

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