Maserati, un­plugged

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By NEIL DOWLING

ELEC­TRIC and hy­brid cars have been un­plugged from Maserati’s fu­ture as it main­tains a staunchly con­ser­va­tive line.

Maserati boss Har­ald Wester, talk­ing to Cars­guide at the Shang­hai mo­tor show where he un­veiled the new Ghi­bli saloon, briskly dis­missed the com­pany badge be­ing ap­plied to the fu­ture tech­nol­ogy.

‘‘Hy­brids are won­der­ful,’’ says a sar­cas­tic Wester.

‘‘I can see no other rea­son for hy­brids or elec­tric cars other than be­ing forced by govern­ment pol­icy.

‘‘I don’t see hy­brids as a busi­ness — we have bet­ter tech­nol­ogy.’’

Wester points to diesel and CNG (com­pressed nat­u­ral gas) as vi­able, en­er­gy­ef­fi­cient and cost-ef­fec­tive cur­rent tech­nolo­gies, though re­fused to say if Maserati would start ap­ply­ing them to its cars.

‘‘Th­ese (diesel and CNG) are proper he says.

‘‘CNG be­cause — le­gal re­stric­tions aside — it is a vi­able al­ter­na­tive to hy­brids.

so­lu­tions,

‘‘I see very good po­ten­tial in the US.

The le­gal re­stric­tions in­volve mak­ing CNG safer as a pas­sen­ger car fuel. It has been blamed for iso­lated engine-bay fires, in­clud­ing three in pub­lic trans­port buses in the past year in Perth.

Wester con­tin­ues to de­ride elec­tric power, say­ing it re­quires ex­ces­sive en­ergy to pro­duce the cars and the elec­tric­ity.

‘‘It’s non­sense to talk about elec­tric cars,’’ he says.‘‘We have to be more hon­est about a real sub­sti­tute for sus­tain­abil­ity.

‘‘Elec­tric cars are not the an­swer— not for the US, not for Europe and not for China.’’

Wester says it re­quires 180 grams of CO2 per km equiv­a­lent to man­u­fac­ture an elec­tric car, on par with many com­pact cars, but the as­sump­tion that driv­ing the car pro­duces neu­tral emis­sions was a mis­con­cep­tion.

‘‘A full-elec­tric car, as­sum­ing 13kW/hour of power, uses 86g/km CO2 in Europe,’’ he says. ‘‘In the US it is 110g/km and in China it is 191g/km CO2.’’

By com­par­i­son, the aver­age petrol-fu­elled small car re­leases 180g/km CO2.

The emis­sion fig­ures are based on how the elec­tric­ity is pro­duced, show­ing that China’s pre­dom­i­nantly coal-fired power sta­tions pro­duce higher emis­sions than in Europe which has many emis­sion-free nu­clear power sta­tions.

But while Wester says elec­tric and hy­brid power won’t be used by Maserati, at least not in the near fu­ture, he ad­mits the com­pany can lower its emis­sion foot­print by draw­ing on the fleet aver­age of its Fiat Group par­ent which is the low­est emit­ter of CO2 among Europe’s ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers.

The new Maserati Ghi­bli saloon. Don’t ex­pect it to be con­verted to elec­tric or a hy­brid any time soon with the com­pany’s boss say­ing the tech­nol­ogy doesn’t stack up

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