Last week Germany’s titans of industry held a huge summit to try and convince European cities and the rest of the world that despite negative press from Volkswagen’s global cheating scandal, diesel passenger cars do have a future and should not face bans. But even Germany’s leader concedes she’s not optimistic about diesel cars moving forward.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted that even Germany should follow Britain and France’s lead on banning new diesel cars from the road, reports Reuters. This is the first time Merkel has said that diesel cars may be banned in the country much after German company Volkswagen set off the Dieselgate scandal over emissions.
The auto industry is Germany’s biggest exporter and provides 800,000 jobs in the country, so Merkel has previously been accused by critics of being soft on them. But as she campaigns for reelection on Sept. 24, she’s admitting that even Germany should put their foot down on no new diesels. Reuters writes:
Merkel’s concession, in an interview with Super Illu magazine, followed mounting pressure over the summer on Germany’s auto makers over their use of devices to conceal diesel vehicles’ true emissions levels from regulators.
“I don’t want to name an exact year,” she said, resuming her election campaign after a three-week holiday. But Britain and France’s plans to phase out internal combustion-driven cars by 2040 “were the right approach,” she said.
Numerous European cities—including Paris, London, and yes, German cities like Munich—have all mulled bans on diesel cars in municipal centers.
Merkel’s sudden tough-on-diesel stance was accompanied with a large finger pointed directly at Volkswagen, who cheated emissions tests with a clever device that made its cars act differently in testing environments. The company’s cheatery has damaged the reputation of Germany’s auto industry, she alleged, and they must now work to repair it.
Trade-in bonuses and software updates should help get customers the lower emissions they were promised, per Reuters. Tax breaks for diesel cars would also remain for the time being, as the cars do still emit less carbon dioxide than petrol engines even though the extra emissions will be deadly. So, if you’re a German who bought a diesel car in hopes of a tax break, you can rest easy for now, even if you might not be able to breathe so easily.
Moving forward, Germany will focus on adding additional charging infrastructure to accommodate greater numbers of electric cars on the road, Merkel said.
German ministers and government spokespeople would not confirm that a phase-out of diesel cars was on the way while Merkel was on holiday earlier this month, Reuters notes. However, it looks like Merkel just did it for them.