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FULL ARTICLE | EDITORIAL 
Berlin diesel summit - Too little too late 
Peter Schmidt | Editor

Published: Fri, 04th August 2017 13:53:11 GMT
 

Dieter Zetsche Detroit 2014


Open quote signBetter late than never. Finally, Germany’s carmakers, historically highly reliant on diesel powered cars have decided to act before the going gets worse. This past Wednesday, Germany’s leading carmakers got together in Berlin in order to hammer out a deal to stop the rot. No doubt, each participating autoindustry member knows only too well that to date the anti-diesel lobby has won hands down. That’s not at all surprising.

Accused of industrial scale wrongdoing on the NOx emission stage, with evidence coming by the trainload from the Volkswagen sparked dieselgate affair for instance, to date Germany’s carmakers have not countered these continuous barbed accusations with a plausible defence. 

Little wonder then that for Joe Public the diesel car makers appear guilty as charged. 

With no defence to deflect the accusations flying its way, what other conclusion can be reached?

Difficult to believe, but it’s been almost two years since the diesel emissions scandal first broke in September 2015. 

Hardly a day passes without some health-scary anti-diesel news in the mass media.

Germany’s autoindustry, apart from responding to legally imposed measures like VW Group’s obligatory recalls, did next to nothing to counter the flak aimed at their diesels from practically all directions.

All the evidence is saying is that in normal real world driving, as distinct from laboratory tests, most diesel fuelled cars pump out a great deal more NOx than they should. 

In consequence, Europe’s traffic-choked conurbations are not only suffering from sky-high NOx levels but in many of these towns maximum permitted NOx levels are often exceeded by a long stretch. 

Little wonder then that city authorities are left with no alternative but to ban the worst known offenders: all but the very latest diesel vehicles. 

Given the massive reputational damage already suffered by diesel-powered cars, the prospect of a widespread city diesel ban is justifiably seen as yet another set of nails into the diesel coffin. 

The diesel car industry knows this only too well. 

In consequence, what was the prime objective in last Wednesday’s diesel car summit meeting in Berlin? 

Surely, to create certainty and to set German diesel car owners’ minds at rest. 

Above all, to restore Germany’s fast-fading diesel car market back to normality. 

So what was accomplished?

To stop the rot, attended by the Volkswagen Group, Mercedes, BMW, Opel and Ford the decision was taken to activate a voluntary recall of up to 5 million Euro 5 and Euro 6 diesel cars in Germany. 

That’s principally for a software fix aimed at lowering real-world NOx emissions in diesel cars by between 20 to 30 per cent. 

And that alone, the VDA (Germany’s autoindustry federation) says should cut average NOx emissions in German cities as much as a diesel car ban. 

Problem solved? 

No. 

Too little too late is probably the best that can be said for Wednesday’s joint declaration
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