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The AMAG exhibition hall is now part of the Swiss Industrial Heritage leisure and educational programme on the history of technology and industrial culture in Switzerland.

AMAG and EMPA

What good does it do if someone tops up their vintage car with synthetic fuel, drives up a mountain and declares that synthetic fuels are suitable for vintage cars? Not a lot – what’s needed is a scientific approach. AMAG and EMPA are currently running a long-term experiment to establish how vintage cars fare with synthetic fuels under different conditions. It includes thorough material testing, lubricant testing, test drives in differing conditions in different vehicles, performance measurements and exhaust gas tests. The tests were completed at the end of 2023, and qualitative and quantitative analysis and evaluation will hopefully show that synthetic fuels and vintage cars do indeed go together, or at any rate will pinpoint the conditions under which they do. Through this series of tests, AMAG and EMPA are taking a step forward on the European stage – this is the first known experiment that focuses exclusively on vintage cars and synthetic fuels.

www.empa.ch
www.amag.ch

For all those who want to continue using their classic car: We invest in sustainable fuels

The future of the car in Europe and Switzerland will be electric. However, the combustion engine will continue to play a role in Switzerland and especially worldwide for a long time to come. This is why synthetic fuels are also a key driver for low-CO2 mobility. There are currently around 1.3 billion cars on the road worldwide. According to EMPA calculations, there will still be around 2 million cars with combustion engines on the road in Switzerland alone in 2040. These include many classic cars, as well as many agricultural vehicles such as the iconic Porsche tractor. Sustainable fuels can contribute to CO2-neutral road transport as a complementary solution to electrification. If the remaining cars with combustion engines can be powered by synthetic fuels, Switzerland's CO2 emissions can be reduced by up to 10%.

The AMAG Group is committed to technological openness and progress

The framework conditions that need to be met in order to bring the price of synfuels to a normal level were researched as part of an ETH project in which Synhelion was also involved. This project was made possible as part of the ETH mobility initiative and was initialised by AMAG, among others. Would you like to find out more? Here you can find the study here.

 

We test whether and how synthetic fuels work in everyday life

As a complementary solution to electrification in road transport, synthetic fuels can contribute to a CO2-neutral transport sector. In theory, synthetic fuels are the obvious solution for reducing CO2 for the existing fleet and therefore also for all historic vehicles. Take Porsche, for example: over 70% of all Porsches built are still on the road today, including the third and fourth oldest Porsche in Switzerland from 1948, the year the company was founded. Many Porsche tractors, of which around 120,000 were built between 1956 and 1963, are also very popular today.

But are combustion engines and synthetic fuels compatible? This question is being investigated by Empa in collaboration with the AMAG Group. In various test series and driving tests, the compatibility of synthetic fuels with the materials and components in classic cars as well as exhaust emissions are being analysed. The initial results give those responsible great cause for optimism.

Tests with vehicles, material tests and performance measurements relating to the use of synthetic fuels are currently being carried out together with EMPA. As soon as these tests have been completed, we will be happy to inform you personally about the results.

Bitte trage etwas in dieses Feld ein.
Bitte trage etwas in dieses Feld ein.
Bitte trage etwas in dieses Feld ein.
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AMAG Classic starts road tests with Synfuels

Synthetic fuels can make a contribution to achieving climate targets. But can they be used in older combustion engines without any problems? AMAG Classic Schinznach-Bad has been testing synthetic fuels in selected vehicles in real-life operation in a joint project with Empa.

In theory, synthetic (i.e. artificially produced) fuels made from hydrogen and carbon dioxide produced using renewable energies are the obvious solution for reducing CO2 emissions in the existing vehicle fleet and thus also for all historic vehicles in Switzerland. But are old technology and new fuels compatible? This question is being investigated by Empa (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology) in collaboration with the AMAG Group. In various series of tests, the compatibility of synthetic fuels with the materials and components in classic cars, the behaviour of classic car engines, which are typically only used sporadically, when synthetic fuels are used, as well as exhaust emissions are being investigated.

For a few days now, the experts at AMAG Classic in Schinznach-Bad have been testing synthetic fuels in operation in selected vehicles. Following a prior material and compatibility test of relevant vehicle components between the tank and injection or carburettors, which took place between autumn 2022 and April 2023, the current driving tests are now intended to show how synthetic fuels behave in real operation.

As is well known, real-world operation in classic cars means that the vehicles are driven once, then parked again, only to be driven the next time the weather is fine. This irregular operation has different effects on the individual components than daily use.

The test series is intended to show whether the hopes of classic car owners that they will be able to drive their classic cars with low CO2 emissions in the future will be fulfilled.

The material compatibility tests that have already been carried out have not revealed any particular anomalies, which was important as a basis for the decision to start driving tests. The test results are currently being analysed in detail. At the same time as the test drives, it is also being checked whether the use of synthetic fuels has the expected effect on the engine oil used. Motorex has already carried out appropriate preliminary clarifications before the real driving tests. Towards the end of the test series, performance and exhaust gas measurements will finalise the test arrangement.

Empa is researching new processes for the production of synthetic energy sources and fuels. The person responsible for the investigations, Christian Bach, Head of the Vehicle Drive Systems Department: "Theoretically, there is no reason why older cars should not be able to run on the new fuel in the long term; the initial results support this hypothesis. However, without proper clarification, hardly any collector would use synthetic fuels in these vehicles, some of which are expensive."

Helmut Ruhl, CEO of the AMAG Group, is convinced: "Synthetic fuel is the solution to ensure that, in addition to the normal fleet of existing vehicles, the cultural asset 'classic car' can continue to be driven with a clear conscience in the future. With 1.3 billion combustion cars worldwide, this technology can make a relevant contribution to reducing CO2 emissions. This is why the AMAG Group has invested in the Swiss company Synhelion, which plans to produce solar fuel in industrial quantities from 2025."

Combined AMAG strength at Swiss Classic World

At this year’s Swiss Classic World in Lucerne, which opens on 27 May, AMAG Classic Schinznach-Bad and the Porsche Centre Zurich, our classic partner in Schlieren, will be hosting a joint stand for the first time. It is designed to provide visitors with an overview of the AMAG Group’s classic expertise. Select exhibits will focus on car assembly in Schinznach-Bad, which came to an end fifty years ago.

Over the years, Swiss Classic World Lucerne has become Switzerland's most important classic and vintage car shows. This year it will be staged once again at the Messe Luzern show ground from 27 to 29 May.

AMAG Automobil und Motoren AG and AMAG First AG had separate stands last year. This year is all about a combined approach. The AMAG Group will be hosting a large stand (400 m2) in Hall 2, presenting visitors with an overview of its entire range of classic vehicles

356. 911. And many more. The Porsche Centre Zurich will present a selection of its emotive Porsche classics, showcasing why so many Porsche models have become legends over the years. There will be a historical restoration project on show to highlight the fact that special cars need special care.

AMAG Classic Schinznach-Bad will again be bringing several exhibits from the Automontage period, including a Standard Vanguard from the early 1950s, a 1957 Chrysler Windsor rediscovered in a barn after almost 40 years, a 1970 Dodge Dart and two US scooters, also produced in Schinznach-Bad. To round off the exhibition, there will be a selection of vehicles available to purchase.

Food and drink will also be available, and our VW beer van will ensure that no one need go thirsty.

We will also be running a competition at the stand – with a little luck, visitors will be able to win a selection of attractive prizes, including weekend rental of a classic car.

Automontage Schinznach AG

Last century, tax regulations brought about a situation where foreign manufacturers’ vehicles were fully assembled in Switzerland. Over 70 years ago, Schinznach-Bad became one of Switzerland’s major car assembly centres. In 1947, the opportunity arose to purchase an old cement works with production halls. That same year, it was converted into what was, at the time, considered a cutting-edge assembly plant for cars. ASAG (Automontage Schinznach AG) began assembling the first Plymouth and Standard saloons in 1949.

Over the years, the tax regulations played less and less of a role, but the manufacturing quality of an Automontage car was clearly superior to that of a fully assembled vehicle delivered directly from the US. ‘Montage Suisse’ became a label of quality.

Towards the end of the sixties, however, the US car industry became obsessed with the idea that bigger was better when it came to displacement and performance, and the end of the fixed exchange rate between the dollar and the Swiss franc led to a depreciation of the dollar. As a result, general interest in the new, bigger Plymouth Valiants and Dodge Darts underwent a steady decline. It was no longer possible to achieve a profitable margin from assembling vehicles. And so, just as assembly in Schinznach-Bad had begun with a Plymouth, it ended with a Plymouth 50 years ago after 29,227 units had been produced.

Empa and AMAG test the compatibility of synthetic fuels

Synthetic fuels can make a contribution to achieving climate targets. But can they be used in conventional combustion engines without any problems? This question is being investigated by Empa in collaboration with the AMAG Group.

 

Even though it is now clear that the future of passenger cars is likely to be largely battery-electric, it will still be many years before the majority of the existing vehicle fleet has been converted. Furthermore, according to a study by the SHVF Swiss Historic Vehicle Federation, around 156,000 veteran vehicles (over 30 years old) and many youngtimers are registered in Switzerland.

In theory, synthetic (i.e. artificially produced) fuels made from renewable hydrogen and carbon dioxide are the obvious solution for reducing CO2 emissions in this vehicle fleet. But are old technology and new fuels compatible? This question is being investigated by Empa, the materials and technology research institute in the ETH Domain, in collaboration with the AMAG Group. In various series of tests, the compatibility of synthetic fuels with the materials and components in classic cars, the behaviour of classic car engines in their typical sporadic use with synthetic fuels and the exhaust emissions are being investigated.

The series of tests is intended to show whether the hopes of classic car owners that they will be able to drive their classic cars with low CO2 emissions in the future will be fulfilled.

Christian Bach, who is responsible for the tests at Empa, says: "Theoretically, there is no reason why older cars should not be able to run on the new fuel in the long term; however, without clean clarifications, the new petrol would hardly be used in the sometimes expensive vehicles. As synthetic fuels are currently only being produced in small quantities, the first challenge was to find a suitable fuel on the market."

Dino Graf, who is also responsible for the AMAG Group's historic vehicle collection, adds: "Synthetic fuel is the solution to ensuring that the cultural asset of classic cars can continue to be driven in the future - and almost as climate-neutral as an electric car. This is one of the reasons why the AMAG Group has also invested in the Swiss company Synhelion, which plans to produce Solarfuel in industrial quantities soon."

The trial will start in summer 2022 and last around a year.

AMAG Classic Day commemorates car assembly

In June 2022, the AMAG Schinznach-Bad premises – the site where the history of the Beetle began in Switzerland in 1948 and where car production ran for decades – staged the first AMAG Classic Day.

AMAG Schinznach-Bad can look back on a long and successful history: the AMAG Group began importing Volkswagen to Switzerland in 1948, followed by Porsche in 1951, Audi in 1967, SEAT in 1984 and Škoda in 1992. Between 1949 and 1972 the import centre Schinznach-Bad also saw the assembly of around 30,000 Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge, DeSoto, Standard, Studebaker and VW Karmann-Ghia vehicles.

Fifty years after ‘Automontage Schinznach’ ceased and one year on from the launch of AMAG Classic, the first in-house centre of expertise for vintage cars and modern classics, the inaugural ‘AMAG Classic Day’ was held in Schinznach-Bad on 25 and 26 June 2022. ‘Automontage Schinznach’ is also the theme of a special exhibition. Former apprentices relate how things were in those days, visitors can get up close with selected ‘Schinznach vehicles’ from 1949 to 1972 and be transported back to the old days on guided tours of the old assembly halls.

We will be delighted to see owners of any ‘AMAG brand’ vehicles that are more than 20 years old – from the VW Beetle to the Chrysler Valiant, from the VW camper van to the Audi quattro, from the Standard Vanguard to the Škoda Favorit, from the SEAT 600 to the Porsche 911. Although the team at AMAG Classic will also be delighted to welcome any owners of other classic and vintage vehicles and, it goes without saying, visitors who do not own a classic car.

Visitors who don’t own a classic but would like to know how it feels to drive one had the chance to test drive one for themselves at Classic Day. There was also food and drink and musical entertainment: a bar, a range of food trucks and a band guarantee a good time for all. There were even attractions and a painting competition for younger visitors. Plus, there was a special highlight in store just a few minutes’ walk from the show ground: part of the historical AMAG collection opened its doors to the public for the first time.

Entrance is free to all visitors, whether or not they are classic car owners.

Opening hours Saturday, 25 June: 12 noon – 8 pm, Sunday, 26 June: 9 am – 4 pm

Automontage Schinznach AG

Switzerland had its own independent car production industry led by the likes of Martini, Turicum and others. Switzerland also fitted top brands with refined bodywork. In addition, foreign manufacturers’ vehicles were fully assembled in Switzerland. Over 70 years ago, Schinznach-Bad became one of Switzerland’s major car assembly centres. In 1947, the opportunity arose to purchase an old cement works with production halls. The factory had become insolvent before the second world war, and during the war years the army used the halls to store straw and hay. That same year, it was converted into what was, at the time, considered a cutting-edge assembly plant for cars. ASAG (Automontage Schinznach AG) began assembling the first Plymouth and Standard saloons in 1949.

But what led a car trading company to assemble vehicles in Switzerland? As is often the case with decisions of this kind, tax regulations played a key role. The amount of duty the Swiss tax authorities levied on complete vehicles from the US was protectionist in all but name. Importing parts, on the other hand, was very cheap because parts created jobs.

Over the years, the tax regulations played less and less of a role, The manufacturing quality of Automontage cars was clearly superior to that of fully assembled vehicles delivered directly from the US. ‘Montage Suisse’ became a label of quality.

Towards the end of the sixties, however, the US car industry became obsessed with the idea that bigger was better when it came to displacement and performance, and the end of the fixed exchange rate between the dollar and the Swiss franc led to a depreciation of the dollar. General interest in the new, bigger Valiants and Darts underwent a steady decline. At the same time, thanks to Auto Union AG, which Volkswagen had acquired, AMAG suddenly had a new, more fuel-efficient range of mid-range and upper-mid-range vehicles in the Audi 90 and Audi 100. The demand for vehicles assembled in Switzerland experienced a steady decline. It was no longer possible to achieve a profitable margin from assembling vehicles. While assembly operations in Schinznach-Bad had begun with a Plymouth, they came to a close 50 years ago after 29,227 units.

The assembly plants at the Schinznach-Bad site were decommissioned. 
After a number of modifications, the assembly halls now house a large workshop with a body shop, paint shop and spare parts warehouse. Over 70 years on, Schinznach-Bad is still an important garage site and has been the home of AMAG Classic since 2021.

AMAG Classic

Our specialist team is dedicated to classic models of all the AMAG Group brands, whether VW Beetle, VW Golf, camper van, Audi quattro, Škoda Favorit, SEAT Ibiza or US vehicle from the Automontage Schinznach days. But the team at AMAG Classic, who are experts in classic vehicles, also love to work with classic and vintage cars of all brands. 

Here’s what AMAG Classic offers:

  • Service and repairs of classic models of all ‘AMAG’ brands (including all vehicles assembled at AMAG in Schinznach-Bad between 1949 and 1972)

  • Restoration (including bodywork and paintwork in our own workshop) 

  • Replacement parts search

  • Events

  • Classic vehicle hire

  • Purchase and sale of vintage cars and modern classics 

AMAG Schinznach-Bad remains a trusted partner of the VW, VW Commercial Vehicles and Škoda brands as well as a service partner for Audi.

AMAG Group AG acquires stake in Synhelion

The AMAG Group has a clear climate strategy and aims to become a climate-neutral company by 2025. A dedicated climate and innovation fund supports initiatives and start-ups that contribute to decarbonisation. Today, AMAG Group AG is making its first commitment and investing in the Swiss ETH spin-off Synhelion.

The future of mobility in the passenger car sector will be electric. There is a consensus on this. Almost all major car manufacturers are now focussing on battery-powered electric vehicles for new cars to reduce CO2 emissions. Many new models will be launched on the market in the coming years. AMAG Import alone is launching eight new BEVs and seven new PHEVs this year together with its authorised dealers. The aim is to achieve a market share of 50% for plug-in vehicles by 2025 and more than 70% by 2030.

However, there are also other modes of transport and a not inconsiderable number of cars whose CO2 emissions can also be reduced. Not forgetting the almost 200,000 veteran vehicles that their owners want to continue to drive in the future.

One solution for these vehicles could be the use of synthetic fuels, which are produced from CO2 using renewable energy.

With solar heat to solar fuels

The Swiss start-up company Synhelion, an ETH spin-off, has developed a very interesting solution in which they use solar heat rather than solar power in their process. "Solar Fuels" are produced from solar heat, which drives a thermochemical reactor. In the reactor, carbon dioxide and water are converted into synthesis gas and then processed into liquid fuels such as solar petrol or solar diesel. Sunny regions offer ideal conditions for the production of solar fuels, especially deserts and semi-arid regions with high levels of solar radiation. The solar heat generated during the day can be stored using low-cost thermal energy storage systems, enabling fuels to be produced around the clock. The storage makes these solar fuel systems self-sufficient and independent of a grid, so that they can be rolled out quickly and on a large scale. The production costs of the fuels can be rapidly reduced through corresponding economies of scale.

Solar fuels, like e-fuels, are not yet available on the market.

Synhelion SA is based in Lugano and develops cutting-edge solar technology to reduce global CO2 emissions. The company was founded in 2016 to bring solar fuels to the market. A first pilot plant was put into operation on the roof of the ETH in 2019, another industrial-scale plant will be built in 2022 and will be available in 2023. 

First investment from the new AMAG Climate and Innovation Fund

The AMAG Group has set the course for 2021 and presented its climate strategy: Reduce, eliminate and, if necessary, offset. AMAG aims to become a climate-neutral company by 2025. AMAG also has the ambition to achieve a climate-neutral footprint in accordance with Net Zero by 2040. A dedicated climate and innovation fund is now supporting initiatives and start-ups that contribute to decarbonisation.

 

A first investment has now been made in Synhelion. AMAG Group AG and Synhelion SA have agreed a participation.

 

AMAG CEO Helmut Ruhl: "Even if the majority of cars will be electric in the future, it is important that we also have climate-neutral solutions for the existing vehicle fleet. We also owe this to our cultural heritage, the classic vehicles. The Swiss start-up Synhelion has found a very exciting way to produce fuels from solar energy that can be used in conventional combustion engines. If it is possible to do this in large quantities at appropriate prices, then this could be a solution for various modes of transport. We are relying on technology, innovation and entrepreneurship to make our contribution to Switzerland's climate goals."

Synhelion CEO and co-founder Gianluca Ambrosetti: "With our solar fuels, we can replace fossil fuels and make an important contribution to the decarbonisation of transport. Various approaches are needed to reduce CO2 emissions in transport in the near future. Our technology offers an economical, efficient and quickly scalable solution, especially for existing vehicles and in the long-distance sector. We are delighted to have AMAG on our side as another strong partner in the fight for CO2-neutral mobility.

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