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Volkswagen and Shell Oil team up to battle Tesla Motors; Germany turns its back on the electric vehicle leader
Posted on May 07, 2016 by Matt Pressman
Nefarious alliances and carefully constructed government policies seem to be dangerously pointed directly at Tesla Motors [NASDAQ: TSLA]. Of note, this week, the Guardian reports, "Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk has accused politicians of bowing to the 'unrelenting and enormous' lobbying power of the fossil fuel industry." Musk stated that, “We need to appeal to the people and educate them to sort of revolt against this and to fight the propaganda of the fossil fuel industry.” Musk is clearly defending Tesla. But, are these allegations off-base?
Image: MSNBC (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty)
No. It appears Musk is actually onto something. It turns out the Guardian recently revealed that, "VW and Shell have been accused of trying to block Europe’s push for electric cars... [as] executives from the two industrial giants launched a study on Wednesday night proposing greater use of biofuels, CO2 car labelling, and the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS) instead. In reality, such a package would involve the end of meaningful new regulatory action on car emissions for more than a decade, EU sources say. But Shell insisted it is not trying to block an EU push for electric cars."
Image: Deutsche Welle
An EU source said: “these two industries have realised they have a shared interest. When you saw who was paying for the study, you knew what the answer would be.” A spokesman for Shell said: “Nothing in the report can be interpreted as seeking to block electric vehicles.” However, Carlos Calvo Ambel, an analyst for the Transport and Environment thinktank, said: “Carmakers, oil companies and biofuels producers are making a desperate bid to dissuade Europe from undertaking fuel efficiency standards for cars, vans and trucks, [and] a push for electric vehicles.”
Image: The New York Times (Photo by Bradley Berman)
The Guardian reports, "that signs of an electric vehicles take-off this spring have included 400,000 pre-orders for the new Tesla Model 3... [and] Dr Christoph Wolff, the managing director of the European Climate Foundation, told the Guardian: 'Electrification is taking off rapidly in markets such as China, Norway and the Netherlands.'" In contrast, Shell’s vice-president for downstream strategy, Colin Crooks, remarked: “Liquid fuels will remain essential during the [low-carbon] transition as internal combustion engines are expected to still continue powering most transport for many years to come.”
Update: thanks to Redditor, futuremobility, we get a clear example of how this Shell/VW funded study is trying to discredit electric vehicles and take a direct swipe at Tesla Motors. Note the "Risk" portion of the graphic below taken directly from the study. The reference to a "burning" Tesla Model S is extremely hypocritical considering the outsized propensity for gas-powered cars to have fires. See below.
Meanwhile, back on Volkswagen's home turf, Germany, government officials are being applauded for (finally) taking action to support electric vehicles. Yet it appears they've also devised this new policy to carefully block Tesla Motors.
Image: Reuters (Photo: Denis Balibouse)
Wall Street Journal reports that, "Earlier this year, a top aide to Chancellor Angela Merkel fired a question at German auto chiefs during a closed-door meeting on the country’s most important industry: What are you going to do about Tesla? The answer emerged on Wednesday, after the German government and the chief executives of Volkswagen AG [and other automakers]... agreed to incentives to help kick-start Germany’s sluggish electric-car market."
Image: Auto Evolution
But the plan seems to have been devised to keep Tesla out. Wall Street Journal reports, "The hitch: Only electric cars with a price tag below €60,000 are eligible for the cash incentive... [which] erects a wall to keep Tesla Motors Inc., the U.S. upstart, from gaining a foothold in Europe’s biggest car market." Furthermore, it's reported that, "The German plan is nearly tailor-made to stop Tesla. Besides the cap on the ticket price, the rushed timing and limited duration of the plan means it will be over before Tesla’s Model 3 is launched."
Above: A recent survey by Germany's Autobild shows 66% of all Germans polled said they would consider purchasing a Tesla Model 3 (Source: Autobild)
According to Electrek, Tesla took to its German website, and expressed that the company was "very disappointed" with Germany's EV plan, "drawn up jointly with the Chairman of the German automobile manufacturers and the relevant ministries. Unfortunately, it was decided that Model S and Model X customers wouldn’t benefit from this promotion, because what they call ‘premium’ is linked to an arbitrary price limit. This part of the program is obviously directed against Tesla."
Above: Tesla Model S just took the crown in Western Europe for best selling luxury car in 2015 pulling ahead of Germany's leader Mercedes S Class (Source: Automotive Industry Data Newsletter)
Furthermore Tesla emphasized: "“Promoting sustainability should not be limited to electric cars selected by companies. The customers of all manufacturers should be encouraged, which will help to reduce CO2 emissions and protect the environment. It is important to mention that the Model S and Model X replace cars in segments with the highest CO2 emissions [large luxury sedans and SUVs respectively].”
We've reported that German automakers have been getting increasingly concerned with Tesla. In addition, powerful forces within the fossil fuels industry are working hard to undermine Tesla. Electric vehicles pose a threat to their livelihood. And, Tesla Motors is the electric vehicle trailblazer in the automotive space. Perhaps, Elon Musk is right to bring this to our attention. The good news? The tidal wave of Tesla Model 3 preorders can help to expedite a future where electric kills the petrol car. Nevertheless, it's critical that the people of Europe take action against this unholy alliance between the fossil fuels industry, big auto, and government.