The state government of Baden-Württemberg decided that the diesel ban would apply to vehicles of the Euro emission standard 4 and worse and would apply to the entire centre of state capital Stuttgart.
A ban on the use of newer diesel engines complying with Euro standard 5 is not to be brought in for the time being. Any final decision on more modern diesel engines will be made dependent on the effect of a wide-ranging package to improve air quality in the smoggy state capital.
According to official figures, a total of 534,573 diesel cars are registered in the Stuttgart, and the surrounding region, of which 188,163 are registered with European standards 1 to 4.
Stuttgart is not the first German city to ban diesel – Hamburg introduced a limited ban on diesel engines early this year on two of the city’s most polluted streets. But the Stuttgart ban is much wider in scope and will encompass the entire city centre.
The Baden-Württemberg government negotiated not only the driving ban, but also exceptions. For example, residents with older diesel cars will be subject to a transition period until April 1st, 2019. Meanwhile craftsmen will be given additional time to buy new vehicles. Taxis, coaches and emergency vehicles will be completely excluded from the ban.
At the same time, the state government intends to adopt a package of measures to tackle air pollution and support public transport and electromobility. Ticket prices on public transport networks are to be reduced and sustainable vehicles such as electric buses and freight bicycles are to be promoted.
The government also presented several technical solutions that should contribute to lower nitrogen oxide emissions in the city. These include an innovative road surface that binds the gases from the air, as well as a noise barrier that is to break down both nitrogen oxides and fine dust from the air. Such measures are planned above all at the Neckartor area, where the worst air pollution values are regularly measured.
The Federal Administrative Court ruled in February that driving bans for air pollution control are permissible if proportionality is applied. Since then, the Baden-Württemberg has been under pressure to reduce nitrogen oxide levels in its famously polluted state capital. The poisonous gases have been linked to respiratory illnesses and heart problems, and are held responsible for thousands of premature deaths each year.
Around 10 million of the 15 million diesel cars registered in Germany fall short of the latest Euro 6 EU emissions regulation, potentially making them eligible for a ban.
Drivers of all but the latest diesel models that adhere to the Euro 6 standards “can no longer be certain of being allowed to drive at any time, 365 days a week,” analysts at consulting firm EY said in response to the ruling back in February.