Merkel wants car giants to pick up 100% of diesel refit bill

September 28, 2018
Can I get this with a clean diesel engine?

Chancellor Angela Merkel heaped pressure on auto giants to pick up the full bill for any refits of older polluting diesel vehicles, as key negotiations got underway Friday on the potentially politically explosive issue.

Diesels have come under general suspicion after Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to installing cheating devices in 11 million vehicles worldwide that allowed them to secretly spew far more nitrogen oxide (NOx) than legally allowed.

With several German cities now threatening bans on dirty diesels, Merkel's government and carmakers have been seeking a plan to stave off restrictions that could hurt the vital industry.

But both sides have so far been unable to agree on how to meet the population's health and environmental concerns while pacifying drivers whose vehicles could plummet in value.

"The fastest and best way for the environment is to replace the old fleet with a new one, but to complement that, there will be possibilities for some to obtain a refit—and in this case, we believe that the customer should not have to pay anything," Merkel told a forum organised by the Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung late Thursday.

Rather, companies should foot "100 percent" of the refit bill.

Carmakers have however so far been reluctant to stump up.

That reluctance is in sharp contrast with Volkswagen paying for fixes and buybacks in the United States.

In 2016 the carmaker reached a $14.7 billion settlement in a under which it offered compensation to nearly half a million affected diesel owners, who were also eligible for buybacks or free modifications to fix the vehicles' emissions.

According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the carmakers are only planning to extend a partially funded refit for vehicles under the so-called Euro-5 standard, which covers cars registered from September 1, 2009.

Talks opened Friday afternoon between Merkel, ministers of finance, environment and transport, and bosses of the automobile industry to hammer out an outcome to the issue.

Merkel has said she plans to take the result to leaders of her coalition partners—the centre-left SPD and her Bavarian allies CSU, on Monday.

NOx and other fine particles have been linked to respiratory illnesses and heart problems, leading to thousands of premature deaths each year.

Some 70 German cities including Munich, Stuttgart and Cologne recorded average nitrogen dioxide levels above EU thresholds in 2017, according to the Federal Environment Agency.

Industry giants such as Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler have responded to "dieselgate" by offering software upgrades and trade-ins for newer and cleaner models, but they have so far resisted costly hardware fixes.

Dieselgate has so far cost Volkswagen 27 billion euros ($31 billion) in compensation, buy-backs, fines and legal costs and the group remains entangled in legal woes at home and abroad.

Nevertheless, it booked 11.4 billion euros in profit for 2017.

Explore further: Porsche first German carmaker to abandon diesel engines

Related Stories

Germany opens Opel probe in 'dieselgate' scandal

July 15, 2018

German authorities are investigating carmaker Opel as part of an inquiry into the "dieselgate" scandal that saw major manufacturers such as Volkswagen fined billions of euros for cheating emissions tests, the transport ministry ...

Recommended for you

Privacy becomes a selling point at tech show

January 7, 2019

Apple is not among the exhibitors at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show, but that didn't prevent the iPhone maker from sending a message to attendees on a large billboard.

China's Huawei unveils chip for global big data market

January 7, 2019

Huawei Technologies Ltd. showed off a new processor chip for data centers and cloud computing Monday, expanding into new and growing markets despite Western warnings the company might be a security risk.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Sep 28, 2018
No problem. We at VW have a new upgraded software that will enable all diesel engines to pass all clean air tests.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.