Engineering firm and automotive parts supplier Bosch has announced that it has perfected a new exhaust system that reduces diesel emissions well below the new environmental standards that will take effect in 2020. The breakthrough could allow manufacturer avoid the interdiction of diesel-engine vehicle sales on European soil.
The company even makes the bold claim that the very survival of the diesel engine could be assured by the new technology. The statement is significant and if true could have widespread repercussions.
Over the decades, automotive manufacturers have made use of diesel to help the industry meet standards governing CO2 emissions, one of the principal causes of global warming. However, diesel engines generate nitrogen oxide, a smog-causing agent that wreaks havoc on cities.
The new process developed by Bosch would enable optimal management of the exhaust system’s temperature, which would result in a significant reduction in the amount of nitrogen oxide produced, to levels as low as 10% of what the new laws call for.
“This breakthrough offers the opportunity to shift the heated debate over diesel into new territory and, hopefully, bring it to a close."
- Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner
The German company is the biggest supplier of diesel-related hardware in the automotive industry. Since the Volkswagen diesel-emissions scandal in 2015, the firm has been hard at work to come up with a solution that could preserve the viability of the technology, not to mention the tens of thousands of jobs that depend on it.
Recent years have seen consumers turn increasingly away from diesel, their confidence eroded by the scandal and by the fact that certain large urban centres (London and Paris, for example) have imposed ever-stricter standards effectively curbing their use.
The coming months will tell if Bosch’s claims prove correct. If they do, diesel-engine vehicles could well make a strong return to the market. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that Bosch was found responsible for its role in the Volkswagen scandal. While the German automaker was caught cheating, Bosch was deemed complicit in developing the software that allowed vehicles to cheat on emissions tests.
Volkmar Denner reiterated that his company was cooperating fully with authorities. He also called for maximum transparency regarding emissions tests, whether they involve diesel or electric-mobility technologies, so that it is possible to measure the actual impact each has on air quality and on the environment.
It’s perhaps best to give Bosch the benefit of the doubt at this point. Certainly, the company is aware that it can ill afford any further missteps.
And if the technology proves to be as advertised, the debate that follows will be an interesting one, to say the least!