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German carmakers offer to cut emissions to save diesel
August 03, 2017
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BERLIN: German automakers offered on Wednesday to help cut inner-city pollution by updating the software of 5 million diesel cars in an attempt to avert vehicle bans and repair their reputation.

Since Volkswagen admitted to cheating US diesel emissions tests in September 2015, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has come under fire for not doing enough to crack down on vehicle pollution and for being too close to powerful carmakers.

The issue has become a central campaign topic ahead of next month’s national election, prompting the government to call crisis talks on Wednesday to show it is taking action as environmental groups try to force bans on diesel vehicles.

But ministers are also wary of angering the drivers of 15 million diesel vehicles and damaging an industry that is the country’s biggest exporter and provides about 800,000 jobs.

The VDA automakers lobby said its members had agreed to pay for software updates of 5 million cars, including 2.5 million VW cars that have already been recalled, to reduce their average emissions of toxic nitrogen oxides by 25-30 per cent.

The move should reduce pollution at least as much as driving bans proposed in major cities, the VDA said in a statement, adding: “The car industry knows it has lost a lot of trust. We must and will work on winning back that trust.” The stakes have increased for German carmakers in recent weeks. Britain and France have announced plans to eventually ban all diesel and petrol vehicles and Tesla has launched its first mass-market electric car.

Meanwhile, top German manufacturers BMW, Daimler, Audi, Porsche and VW are being investigated by European regulators for alleged anti-competitive collusion.

An opinion poll published on Wednesday by Die Welt newspaper showed 73 per cent of Germans want politicians to take a tougher line with the car industry on air pollution.

German car sales data on Wednesday showed diesel car sales fell 12.7 per cent in July. Now diesel makes up only 40.5 per cent of new car sales in Europe’s largest car market, down from 46 per cent at the end last year.

Reuters

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