Volkswagen Auto Group CEO Herbert Diess is voicing his distaste for using hydrogen to solve global climate issues. “Please listen to the science,” Diess said in a Tweet.
Citing a report from German media outlet Handelsblatt, Diess said that hydrogen-powered vehicles have been proven not to be as environmentally conscious as they once were thought to be. Instead, Diess suggests that companies should focus on electrification, a narrative that many companies under the Volkswagen AG umbrella have announced they are joining. The most recent being Italian carmaker Lamborghini, which Volkswagen AG owns.
Diess said (via Google Translate):
“The hydrogen car is proven NOT to be the solution. Electrification has established itself in traffic. Sham debates are a waste of time. Please listen to the science!”
The Handelsblatt report that Diess cited shows that a new study from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has concluded that hydrogen cars are not the way to achieve climate neutrality. Instead, scientists who performed the study indicate that battery electric cars (BEVs) are more sustainable and can be a more environmentally-conscious option for those who are concerned about their car’s emissions.
The Handelsblatt report states:
“Rather, direct use of electricity would make more economic and ecological sense in the coming years, especially in the passenger car sector. It is also criticized that new hydrogen-based fuels could keep combustion technology alive longer, which in turn would ensure continued dependence on fossil fuels and thus further greenhouse gas emissions and endanger the climate targets.”
Additionally, Falko Ueckerdt, the lead author of the study and a PIK scientist, said:
“Such fuels as a universal climate solution are a bit of a false promise. While they are wonderfully versatile, they cannot be expected to replace fossil fuels on a large scale. This can only be achieved with direct electrification.”
The study highlights the high-energy requirements of hydrogen vehicles, which use substantially more electricity to produce an EV. The study states that the production uses between two to fourteen times the amount of electricity is needed for combustion engine cars in manufacturing. Hydrogen-powered cars utilize around five times as much energy as BEVs.
Diess, who has become one of the most vocal automotive frontmen in the industry in support of electrification, has led Volkswagen to become one of the major OEMs in the transition to EVs. Over the past two years, Diess has taken Volkswagen from the depths of the Dieselgate controversy to the heights of the EV sector, with its ID.4 winning 2021’s “World Car of the Year” Award for 2021.