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CEO Rainer Seele tests the cars of the future

Four cars, two hours, a racetrack, and a lot of burnt rubber: This is what happens when OMV CEO Rainer Seele and profil publisher Christian Rainer test four different drive models to assess their future viability.

At Wachauring near Melk, around one hour’s drive west of Vienna, it is bitterly cold. So cold that you could even talk of unfair competition —very cold temperatures are, to say the least, not ideal for the batteries of electric cars. At least, not if you want one charge of battery to achieve the kilometers promised by the manufacturer. Especially if you also prefer a bit of warmth in the car and aren’t a fan of driving with a hat and gloves.

Four cars with different drive models are standing by the track: A conventional petrol model (Opel Corsa), a hybrid (VW Passat), a car with a hydrogen-powered drive (Toyota Mirai), and an electric SUV (Tesla Model X). Which of these models represents the future of mobility? A lot of people are currently discussing this, but maybe a test can say more than some of the experts know. This is why there are also two test-drivers standing by the track to take a closer look at the cars. Two men who deal with the issue of future mobility in their private and professional lives: OMV CEO Rainer Seele and Christian Rainer, publisher of the Austrian news magazine profil and a driver whose passion for Ferraris goes back decades.

In the following video you can see what the two of them have to say about the cars with alternative drive technology and how they rate the different models.

How will we get around in the future?

Wachauring is some 1.2 kilometers long, has a longer straight, a long right-hand curve, an S and then finally a sharp bend to the right. It’s not suitable for racing, but that’s not particularly important when looking at the future of mobility: The coming decades are likely not to be characterized by high speeds, at least not in ordinary driving—noise reduction and emission protection measures on motorways will be just some of the reasons for this—but also the electronic support systems built into the cars themselves. If the fun of driving is not to be curtailed in the future, then it is likely to come from accelerating, torque, cornering, and driving style.

Or, when you look at Christian Rainer: The fun for him comes when the tires begin to screech. As soon as the journalist gets in the test car, he spins it on its own axis until you not only hear that he’s driving, but can smell it as well. “He has a very youthful driving style,” OMV CEO Rainer Seele is later heard to say.

The OMV of the future is not a one-dimensional OMV. That means that we will prepare for multiple drive technologies.
Rainer Seele, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of OMV Aktiengesellschaft

Petrol: The tried-and-tested classic

As a solid vehicle, tested for everyday use millions of times, the Opel Corsa does its job on the roads day in and day out. The 90 PS model we tested, naturally fuelled by OMV MaxxMotion, reasonably accelerated its weight of 1,100 kilos. A feature that Rainer Seele and Christian Rainer discovered was far from the case with all of the test vehicles.

Hybrid: Top torque, range needs improvement

The VW Passat Hybrid in turn managed up to 50 kilometers in electric mode. That’s enough for short city trips, but for our test, which took around 400 kilometers there and back, we put it in hybrid mode. It shifted very quickly from electric drive into combustion mode. Torque and acceleration were positive; for Christian Rainer and Rainer Seele this car is really suited to families.

Hydrogen: Attractive design with power button

Another piece of state-of-the-art technology is the Toyota Mirai with its hydrogen-powered drive. It has a range of 500 kilometers, so it’s no problem to travel throughout Austria and southern Germany on the highways. “When it comes to design, this car is by far the most attractive,” says Rainer Seele, getting into the car on the first test spin. But the profil publisher Christian Rainer is not quite as convinced by the hydrogen car. “In environmental terms, this may well be the future, but the power and torque are about as much fun as a kiddy go-kart at the funfair.” The OMV CEO doesn’t want to contradict him completely; however, this could also lie in the fact that neither test driver seems to have discovered the power button. This significantly increases the performance of the vehicle, albeit at the expense of driving range.

Tesla: Very quiet, but pricey

The new Tesla Model X, an SUV powered exclusively by an electric engine, has a similarly high official range to the Toyota. The car has all kinds of technical gadgets that impress the two test drivers. The generous windshield is also a hit. However, at a price of some 100,000 euros, the car is also the most expensive one at Wachauring by a huge margin. Christian Rainer and Rainer Seele are impressed by the car’s acceleration and, according to Christian Rainer, this also makes up for what he sees as the car’s greatest drawback. Christian Rainer: “Simply put, the car is extremely quiet, but when you hit the gas full on going into a bend, you can at least hear your front passenger’s teeth chattering.” In this case, the passenger was Rainer Seele, who said: “It’s simple—I just miss the sound of the engine.” So it seems that his teeth weren’t chattering that much.

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