Government calls upon diesel car manufacturers to up their game in 2019

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DPA/The Local - [email protected]
Government calls upon diesel car manufacturers to up their game in 2019
Photo: DPA

As court disputes and policy debates about diesel pollution continue, the federal government has called on German carmakers to lift their standards to improve their image and win back public confidence.


Despite months of litigation and policy promises, things remain uncertain for diesel drivers in several German cities. While action has been taken by the German government to counter the impact of diesel bans, critics have argued that the response is inconsistent - and will not lead to cleaner air. 

As reported by The Local in November, sections of several of Germany’s largest cities are facing diesel bans in the new year. In Stuttgart diesel cars below the Euro 4 standard are to be banned from the entire city in 2019. In Berlin, bans are set to come in on at least eleven of the most polluted sections of road in the city. 

SEE ALSO: How diesel bans have ignited a debate about dirty tricks and dodgy money

Court cases in other sections of the country are still ongoing, with bans threatened for Frankfurt, Mainz, Hamburg and other German cities. 

The federal government has called on German automakers to lift their game in the new year. Federal Minister for Traffic and Digital Infrastructure Andreas Scheuer has indicated that automakers may face penalties if they fail to comply. 

“In 2019 not only do we need to retrofit German cars, but we need to retrofit public confidence in German automakers”, Scheuer told DPA. 

'Win back customers' trust'

The Minister called on German automakers to do better to win back the trust of customers across the country and throughout the world. 

In a bid to mitigate the impact of the bans, the government has introduced a raft of subsidies and assistance for drivers to retrofit their vehicles to comply with the diesel standards. 

“We are against driving bans. We are offering assistance and support to the affected communities,” Scheuer said. 

“We’ve handed over more than €480 million in subsidies.”

The Lord Mayor of Mainz Michael Ebling has criticized the proposal as grotesque, saying it leads to a patchwork of different measures which don’t effectively target the problem – particularly with regards to automakers who fail to comply. 

“The automobile industry seems to make mistakes in Germany, but it is not held accountable. This is almost subversive, which undermines the reliability of our rule of law,” Ebling said.

“After my participation in the third diesel summit with the Chancellor I can’t shake the feeling that we are fooling around instead of trying to punish violations”.

Automakers promised that 5.3 million cars would be converted by the end of the year, but fell well short of the target. By mid-December only 3.75 million vehicles had been converted. 

Scheuer also criticized automakers, saying they had broken promises made to the German public. 

“I’m annoyed that they (automakers) made a promise they could not keep. This does not improve confidence at all”.

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