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Autobahn Speed Limits? Voting With Lead Feet

It seemed like a no-brainer: Lower Germany’s embarrassingly high carbon emissions at no cost, and save some lives in the process.


But when a government-appointed commission in January dared to float the idea of a speed limit on the autobahn, the country’s storied highway network, it almost caused rioting.

Irate drivers took to the airwaves. Union leaders menacingly put on their yellow vests, hinting at street protests. And the far-right opposition used the opportunity to rage against the “stranglehold” of the state.



A highway speed limit was “contrary to every common sense,” the transport minister, Andreas Scheuer, swiftly declared, contradicting his own experts.And that was that.


As far as quasi-religious national obsessions go for large portions of a country’s population, the German aversion to speed limits on the autobahn is up there with gun control in America, whaling in Japan and sovereignty in Britain.


With few exceptions, like Afghanistan and the Isle of Man, there are highway speed limits essentially everywhere else in the world.


But this is Germany, the self-declared “auto nation,” where Carl Benz built the first automobile and where cars are not only the proudest export item but also a symbol of national identity.


It’s also the country where, in darker times, Hitler laid the groundwork for a network of multilane highways that in the postwar years came to epitomize economic success — and freedom.


Call it Germany’s Wild West: The autobahn is the one place in a highly regulated society where no rule is the rule — and that place is sacred.


“It’s a very emotional topic,” confided Stefan Gerwens, head of transport and mobility at ADAC, an automobile club with 20 million members, which is opposed to any speed limit.

So emotional, apparently, that facts and figures count for little.


Germany is woefully behind on meeting its 2020 climate goals, so the government appointed a group of experts to find ways to lower emissions in the transport sector. Cars account for 11 percent of total emissions, and their share is rising.


A highway speed limit of 120 kph, or 75 mph, could cover a fifth of the gap to reach the 2020 goals for the transport sector, environmental experts say.


“Of all the individual measures, it is the one that would be the most impactful — and it costs nothing,” said Dorothee Saar, of Deutsche Umwelthilfe, a nonprofit environmental organization that has lobbied for a speed limit.


“But when it comes to cars,” Saar sighed, “the debate tends to become irrational.”


Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/337656/web/

About cars - Man in Germany drives to driving test

A man in Germany has discovered the hard way that it’s best to get a driving license first before trying to use it.


Police in Bergheim, near Cologne, said Tuesday that the 37-year-old drove himself to his driving test, parking an Opel Zafira outside the test center in front of an astonished examiner.


They said he told police officers who were called to the scene on Monday that he had only driven because he wanted to make sure to get to the driving test on time.


His test was immediately called off. The man now faces an investigation for driving without a license. Police also opened an investigation of the car’s owner.


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Danish police confiscate luxury sports car caught speeding 丹麥警方沒收超速的豪華跑車

Danish police have confiscated a high-performance luxury car after its new owner was caught speeding as he drove it home from Germany to Norway.


The man, an Iraqi citizen resident in Norway who was not identified, was registered Thursday as driving at 236 kph in his Lamborghini Huracán on a stretch of highway where the top speed is 130 kph.


Under a new Danish law, police can seize the vehicles of reckless drivers and auction them off, with the money going into Danish coffers.


The Nordjyske newspaper said the man had bought the car hours earlier in Germany for 2 million kroner.


The car owner will also be fined for speeding in due course.

車主當理也將因超速被罰。 Source article: https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1486857 ; https://features.ltn.com.tw/english/article/paper/1478842

Truck Makers Face Choice: Go Battery or Hydrogen

Even before war in Ukraine sent fuel prices through the roof, the trucking industry was under intense pressure to kick its addiction to diesel, a major contributor to climate change and urban air pollution. But it still has to figure out which technology will best do the job.


Truck makers are divided into two camps. One faction, which includes Traton, Volkswagen’s truck unit, is betting on batteries because they are widely regarded as the most efficient option. The other camp, which includes Daimler Truck and Volvo, the two largest truck manufacturers, argues that fuel cells

that convert hydrogen into electricity — emitting only water vapor — make more sense because they would allow long-haul trucks to be refueled quickly.


The choice companies make could be hugely consequential, helping to determine who dominates trucking in the electric vehicle age and who ends up wasting billions of dollars on the Betamax equivalent of electric truck technology, committing a potentially fatal error. It takes years to design and produce new trucks, so companies will be locked into the decisions they make now for a decade or more.


“It’s obviously one of the most important technology decisions we have to make,” said Andreas Gorbach, a member of the management board of Daimler Truck, which owns Freightliner in the United States and is the largest truck maker in the world.


The stakes for the environment and for public health are also high. If many truck makers wager incorrectly, it could take much longer to clean up trucking than scientists say we have to limit the worst effects of climate change. In the United States, medium- and heavy-duty trucks account for 7% of greenhouse gas emissions.


Although sales of electric cars are exploding, large truck makers have only begun to mass-produce emission-free vehicles. Daimler Truck, for example, began producing an electric version of its heavy-duty Actros truck, with a maximum range of 240 miles, late last year. Tesla unveiled a design for a battery-powered semitruck in 2017 but has not set a firm production date.


Cost will be a decisive factor. Unlike car buyers, who might splurge on a vehicle because they like the way it looks or the status it conveys, truck buyers carefully calculate how much a rig is going to cost them to buy, maintain and refuel.

價格將會是一項決定性因素。卡車買家會仔細計算整套配備的價格、維護及補充燃料費用,不像汽車買家,可能會因為喜歡車的外觀或者能夠顯示他們的地位而揮霍。Source article: https://udn.com/news/story/6904/6260402