On Engines, Emissions, Apple & More

Oliver Schmidt is the general manager of the Engineering & Environmental Office of Volkswagen Group of America.

Oliver Schmidt is the general manager of the Engineering & Environmental Office of Volkswagen Group of America.

Which means that Schmidt is deeply involved in powertrains for the activities for the word before the ampersand.

And he’s involved in emissions certification and compliance for the word after.

This week Schmidt will return to Germany, where he will be taking a position in Volkswagen Group in Wolfsburg that will have him dealing with the overall Group’s powertrains.

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Volkswagen 2.0-liter TDI diesel

Given the breadth of what they have in their portfolio—various sizes and numbers of cylinders; diesels and gasoline; hybrids and electrics; performance and economy—this is an extensive undertaking.

On this edition of “Autoline After Hours,” Schmidt discusses the opportunities and challenges faced by not just VW, but other OEMs.

And you may be surprised to learn that while there are some people who think that the EPA’s fuel economy standards are simply numbers that some bureaucrats or politicians have plucked from the air, Schmidt says that what is useful when dealing with the EPA and the California Air Resources Board is that the people involved are actually technical.

Meanwhile, he explains, over in Europe, decisions about the emissions regulations (the amount of carbon dioxide emitted over a kilometer) are predicated more on politics than engineering.

Schmidt talks about how engines have become like car models, inasmuch as while engines used to be put in production and were little changed for long periods of time while cars are introduced and refreshed after a few years and replaced after a few more, now engines are being modified more frequently.

How? He cites CNC machine tools as a facilitator.

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Kia SPORTSPACE concept

In addition to which, host John McElroy pokes fun at the mayhem that is NASCAR, and he and Dave Zoia of Ward’s and I, along with Schmidt, talk about whether Apple is going to get into the car business, whether station wagons might make a comeback (predicated, in part, by the Kia SPORTSPACE concept that it will be showing at the Geneva Motor Show), and much more on this edition of “Autoline After Hours,” which you can see right here: