Nina Vetterli-Treml Automotive journalist
Text: Vanessa Georgoulas/Images: Markus Bertschi

Fast and furious

Nina Vetterli-Treml loves fast sports cars and makes loud music. “For me, they have one thing in common: energy,” says the automotive journalist, whose high-octane brain gets its kicks from trends and challenges in the automobile market as well as from the power of music.

“E-cars are not yet competitive.”

Ms Vetterli-Treml, privately you drive an old Porsche. Could you imagine trading it in for an energy-efficient car?

Nope. But if I had the money, I’d splurge on a second set of wheels. It could even be an e-car. There are some pretty cool models out there.

What weight does the energy issue carry in the automotive industry these days?

Aside from the driverless car and digital interlinkage, it’s the top topic. There’s a lot of spare change involved in paying CO2 penalties.

But the e-car market share is still negligible at present...

E-cars are not yet competitive. The prices are high and their limited range is a huge disadvantage, even though it has been statistically shown that the average person doesn’t drive more than 30 miles a day. But an automobile symbolises freedom, and in this regard there isn’t a sufficient network of roadside recharging stations for e-cars.

Which trends will shape the future of the market?

Currently, downsizing is the thing – in other words, reduced cubics, fewer cylinders and more turbochargers. The internal-combustion engine is far from being obsolete.

In your view, how does the energy source of the future look?

Which technology gains the upper hand, and when, is hard to say right now. Through the medium term, downsized engines will account for the lion’s share. However, electrification in the form of hybrid vehicles will make steady progress. A good alternative could be natural gas powered cars; but there I see an image problem: namely, the lack of sex appeal. I find the new fuel-cell technology exciting – we’ll see what develops in that area.

When will we sit in fully automated cars?

Tesla has announced for this year a car that can drive itself autonomously up to 90 per cent of the time on a given journey. In principle, the technology is already there. How long the regulatory approval process will take is something I can’t estimate at this point.

“I guess I’m like a car battery: the motor’s got to run.”

As an automotive journalist and musician, you’re on the road quite a lot. How do you keep your physical and mental energy household in order?

I need my seven hours of shuteye and have relatively healthy eating habits. Plus I go on frequent walks – I live right next to a forest.

Your presence on stage is remarkable – is music energy-consuming or actually a source of energy for you?

Music is something that’s very emotional and by all accounts a source of energy. Only on very rare occasions is a stage appearance energy-depleting – for example, when the audience isn’t hot-blooded. Normally the opposite is the case, and the people potentiate that energy.

What do you consider to be a waste of energy?

Thinking about what other people could think about me.

How do you recharge your batteries, day in day out?

I don’t do anything special. I guess I’m like a car battery: the motor’s got to run.

Nina Vetterli-Treml

For Nina Vetterli-Treml (*1978) driving a car is both a profession and a passion. As an automotive journalist, the former ad writer today travels the world in order to test the latest sets of wheels. Each Sunday, she puts the pedal to the metal on Swiss TV’s “Tacho” telecast. Together with her father, she co-authored a book on Switzer­land’s auto racing scene. In private life, her heart belongs to just one type: her 1980 Porsche 911. Driving that vaunted beast is something the South-Korea-born, Singapore-raised Swiss bundle of energy views as a basic need; just like her second passion, music. On stage, the singer/songwriter recharges her batteries as front vocalist and bass guitarist of the heavy metal band “69 Chambers”.