BMW calls for e-fuels in transport energy mix

Perhaps desperate to keep its combustion engine production running, a senior member of BMW’s management has claimed that ‘e-fuels’ – manufactured hydrocarbon fuel – should still be an option in energy mixes of the future.

This is despite e-fuels still putting CO2 into the atmosphere and not being removed at anything like the same speed.

With few exceptions, car and truck manufacturers’ leadership are still clinging onto a future for internal combustion engines. Despite its much heralded move to electrifying its vehicle range, BMW is still investing in combustion engines as part of a ‘technology neutral’ approach to zero emission vehicles.

“To be technology open includes e-fuels,” Peter Lehnert, vice president of research and new technologies with the BMW Group, said.

“However, I think there’s a lot of research to do to scale it up to the potential where it plays a major role in the whole energy mix,” he added.

“I think it’s always good to have different opportunities. We invest in the combustion engine, as there might be chances for them in the future. For urban mobility I’m sure it will be electric,” he said.

E-fuels are manufactured hydrocarbon fuels where hydrogen is added to CO2 to create the fuel. They are compatible with current combustion engines. The theory goes that the CO2 is captured from the atmosphere for production and then released in combustion, thereby being labelled carbon neutral. Most industrial CO2 isn’t captured from the atmosphere and 98% of hydrogen is extracted in a highly carbon emitting process from fossil fuels.

“In the end, e-fuels need to be produced by green power, otherwise it doesn’t match our targets under the European Green Deal,” said Lehnert.

This is a case of highly conservative, often climate change denying automotive executives clinging onto fossil fuels even while the world needs to move away from them.