Prof. Frank Atzler (59) has been researching engines for years - since 2019 at the Chair for Combustion Engines and Drive Systems at the TU Dresden.
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What will the car of the future drive? Dresden traffic expert in a TAG24 interview

By Thomas Staudt

Dresden – Combustion engines will no longer be sold after 2035. The decision will be reviewed again in four years, but that’s the way they want it EU. SaxonyGermany and Europe will also need combustion engines in the future, says Frank Atzler (59), Professor of Internal Combustion Engines and Drive Systems at the TU Dresdenin the TAG24 interview.

Prof. Frank Atzler (59) has been researching engines for years – since 2019 at the Chair for Combustion Engines and Drive Systems at the TU Dresden. © Eric Munch

DAY24: Mr. Atzler, which car does a professor of drive systems actually drive?

Professor Frank Atzler: I drive a diesel on my long journeys, which consumes little fuel and therefore emits comparatively little CO2.

DAY24: That sounds like the argument of a die-hard…

Out for the Ford Fiesta!  Production is stopped
automobile
Out for the Ford Fiesta! Production is stopped

Atzler: Not at all! The diesel has only become obsolete because some manufacturers have cheated and destroyed the credibility of the entire auto industry. This is a moral question, not one of climate protection. With Euro 6d, the diesel has also become really clean!

DAY24: Nevertheless, the European car industry relies mainly on e-cars. Is that the right way into the automobiles Future?

Atzler: It’s not the only way. The e-car is perfect for anyone who mainly uses their car for short trips. On long journeys and with heavy trucks, I can go farther with a full tank than with a full battery. Quite apart from charging times and the expensive charging infrastructure.

Fuel from CO2 could become “the new German export hit”.

Stromers have been on the rise since Tesla.  The European car industry largely relies on this technology.

Stromers have been on the rise since Tesla. The European car industry largely relies on this technology. © picture alliance/dpa/Julian Stratenschulte

DAY24: Europe wants to get away from combustors and fossil fuels because they pollute the environment, but also because oil and gas make us very dependent on “evil” producing countries such as the Gulf States or Russia. That would be different with green electricity and hydrogen.

Atzler: Is correct! But both electricity and hydrogen can only be stored with great effort. And we simply don’t have enough space for self-sufficiency for green electricity! Last year, Germany only covered 16 percent of its total energy requirements with electricity from renewable sources.

DAY24: Are you currently declaring the energy transition to have failed?

Is the China wave imminent?  German car buyers are also flirting with models from the Far East
automobile
Is the China wave imminent? German car buyers are also flirting with models from the Far East

Atzler: no way. Electricity and hydrogen are the basis. And with liquid methanol made from H2 plus CO2, the whole system becomes much simpler. Global green energy trading will be greatly simplified. Today you can “collect” the CO2 from industrial emissions and in the medium term directly from the air. This is how we get a sustainable carbon cycle. To do this, we need several tens of thousands of electrolysers for the H2. That would then be the new German export hit!

“Will still need the combustion engine in the future”

E-fuels are synthetic fuels that are produced on the basis of renewable energies.  The EU wants to decide at a later date whether they should remain allowed.

E-fuels are synthetic fuels that are produced on the basis of renewable energies. The EU wants to decide at a later date whether they should remain allowed. © picture alliance/dpa/Tom Weller

DAY24: What do you think the car of the future will be powered by?

Atzler: With green electricity and artificial green fuels, the so-called e-fuels, such as methanol. Both would then be climate-neutral!

DAY24: Not just that greens– MEP Michael Bloss disagrees. Anyone who still relies on combustion engines is harming the industry, the climate and violating European law, he said after the end of combustion engines.

Atzler: That is unrealistic wishful thinking! I am convinced that we will continue to need the combustion engine in many different applications in the future. China is already developing super-economical and low-emission engines, while we in Europe are only talking about bans. If a rethink doesn’t start here soon, we will also buy our combustion engines in China in the future.

Cover photo: Montage: Eric Münch, picture alliance/dpa/Julian Stratenschulte, picture alliance/dpa/Tom Weller

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