Audi goes loco for lower car­bons

Three com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles used by Ger­many’s top car mak­ers

The Witness - Wheels - - TRANSPORT - AL­WYN VILJOEN

IN July Merc an­nounced its plans to build a bakkie, while BMW went one bet­ter and started test­ing its first elec­tric truck on short routes in Mu­nich.

Now Audi has seen both BMW’s lil’ lorry and Merc’s ute, and raised the stakes with a mas­sive hy­brid lo­co­mo­tive.

Yep, you’d be for­given for think­ing the tra­di­tional Ger­man tru­imver­ate have gone loco, or at least mad for the heavy stuff.

Granted, Audi did not build its lo­co­mo­tive. But then, nei­ther does Merc plan to build its bakkie from scratch — a Nis­san NP300 will do­nate the chas­sis. And BMW got a Ger­man au­to­mo­tive ser­vice provider, the Scherm group, and the Dutch man­u­fac­turer Ter­berg to build that Beemer truck. (And could they re­ally not make it look any bet­ter than the av­er­age lug­gage pullers we see at air­ports?)

Audi opted to con­tract the world’s lead­ing train puller Alstom to match a lo­co­mo­tive to the needs of its fac­tory. Af­ter all, Volk­swa­gen al­ready uses Alstom, so they must be good, right?

Ralf Mater­zok, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor in charge of lo­co­mo­tive ser­vices at Alstom in Ger­many, said in a state­ment: “Alstom is pleased to count Audi amongst our H3 cus­tomers, af­ter Deutsche Bahn and Volk­swa­gen. The ben­e­fits of our newly de­vel­oped shunt­ing lo­co­mo­tive plat­form are mul­ti­ple: the H3 is en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly, com­pact and pow­er­ful in terms of trac­tive force on start­ing. On top of this, the in­no­va­tive hy­brid trac­tion al­lows us to re­duce en­ergy cost sig­nif­i­cantly.”

In the same state­ment, Jo­hann Sch­mid, op­er­a­tions man­ager for Audi’s in­dus­trial rail­road at In­gol­stadt, said the Alstom lo­co­mo­tives would save more than half the 20 litres of diesel trucks used per hour, as the gen­er­a­tor of the hy­brid lo­co­mo­tive needs only nine litres per hour to charge the bat­tery pack.

Liv­ing the dream of ev­ery model train set builder, Sch­mid gets to play on 18 km of rail­way at the plant, man­ag­ing the un­load­ing of 15 goods trains as they ar­rive with pressed parts, en­gines and trans­mis­sions, as well com­plete Audi cars from other plants.

He said a sin­gle plant lo­co­mo­tive car­ries out up to 75 shunt­ing ma­noeu­vres ev­ery day. The new lo­co­mo­tive runs for up to two hours on its bat­tery pack in­side the plant build­ings. The bat­ter­ies can be recharged with CO2-free elec­tric­ity when the train is parked, but while rolling a big dirty diesel gen­er­a­tor loads those Watts.

Still, it uses less diesel and emits about half the CO2 of a nor­mal diesel lo­co­mo­tive, sav­ing the plant up to 60 tons less CO2 each year.

Audi said this is an­other step to­wards mak­ing the In­gol­stadt fac­tory CO2-neu­tral.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

BMW is jus­ti­fi­ably proud of the emis­sion sav­ings its elec­tric truck has com­pared to diesel trucks. Pity no de­sign­ers were in­volved in its ex­te­rior ap­pear­ance.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Audi’s plant at In­gol­stadt will save lots of diesel each day with a hy­brid lo­co­mo­tive.

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