It might seem surreal. A large automotive manufacturing company is found producing cars with software capable of cheating emissions tests. Then, Volkswagen admits 11 million of its diesel cars worldwide were outfitted with the device. Finally, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change says she’s “delighted” by the scandal.
At a recent event hosted by The Christian Science Monitor, Christiana Figueres said the recent VW scandal has given the car company the opportunity to live up to its name “the car of the people.”
“What is their corporate strategy? We are going to scrap diesel…and we’re moving to electric vehicles. Well, now we have a little revolution underway because Tesla is certainly opening up very, very new ground, but Tesla, as we all know, is not exactly the people’s vehicle,” Figueres said at the event. “So, if the people’s vehicle says ‘We’re going to electric vehicles, and we’re going to make it accessible for everybody to be able to get a car,’ now” a revolution begins.
Figueres pointed out other developments indicating an impending future switch from fossil fuels to electric. Recently, The Economist reported Airbus is seriously investigating the potentials of electric flight. On top of being clean, quiet and reliable, electric propulsion supplies ample amounts of torque for propeller and fan blade rotation, according to the newspaper.
NASA is exploring electric propulsion with its Scalable Convergent Electric Propulsion Technology Operations Research (SCEPTOR) project. The project aims to outfit a Tecnam P2006T aircraft with multiple electric propellers on its wings. The Economist reported test flights are scheduled for 2017.
Ronald Baron, CEO and Chief Investment Officer of Baron Funds, reported last year his confidence electric cars will eventually represent a large portion of car sales. “Two of our research analysts recently visited BMW’s headquarters in Munich, as well as its electric vehicle and carbon fiber assembly plants in Leipzig, Germany, and its battery pack assembly plant and research facility in Dingolfing, Germany,” he wrote in a quarterly report. “The BMW financial team believes a revolution in drive train is underway. We believe that BMW will likely phase out internal combustion engines over the next 10 years!”
In October, Volkswagen announced its intentions to make electric Volkswagen Phaeton the flagship for the brand’s profile over the next decade.
This week, The Wall Street Journal reported the Volkswagen recall could include 800,000 more cars than previously disclosed. About 98,000 affected vehicles are gasoline-powered.
According to BBC News, Volkswagen faces serious financial repercussions following the scandal. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can potentially fine the company up to $37,500 per compromised vehicle. The maximum fine could potentially be $18 billion.
“My friends I ask you, is it time to begin to build the museum to the internal combustion engine?” Figueres said at The Christian Science Monitor event. “Perhaps.”
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