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German Diesel scandal widens

Germany
02.08.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
German car bosses summoned to Berlin as diesel scandal widens
The crisis gripping the German car industry has emerged as a new election campaign battleground, forcing Berlin to call auto bosses to an emergency summit on Wednesday to help restore confidence in the motor vehicle sector ahead of the September poll.
GALLERY
Berlin (dpa) - The summit of government leaders, unions and industry chief executives to consider the future of diesel-powered vehicles comes in the wake of the emissions-testing scandal and claims that the auto sector has operated a secret cartel since the 1990s.
Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said ahead of the summit that the carmakers‘ plans for updating the emissions-testing software could only be a first step. What was needed was a more comprehensive technical makeover of the vehicles, she said.

The Berlin meeting also comes as Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s conservatives come under fire for maintaining a too cosy relationship with the powerful carmakers and for their handling of the emissions crisis.

The summit forms part of the build-up to the September 24 election.

A survey drawn up by the pollsters Emnid and published in the weekly Bild am Sonntag found that Germany‘s carmakers, representing one of the nation‘s key industrial sectors, were no longer trustworthy.

Wednesday‘s National Diesel Forum - which will include the heads of Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, BMW, Daimler, Ford‘s German operations and Opel - comes after VW admitted in September 2015 to cheating on diesel emissions tests on more than 11 million vehicles around the world.

Since then, the emissions scandal has widened with Daimler announcing this month that it was recalling in Europe more than 3 million diesel models of its luxury Mercedes-Benz brand to correct their emissions performance.

VW‘s Porsche has also recalled about 22,000 of its popular Cayenne Diesel 3.0 TDI models across Europe, while VW luxury offshoot Audi is recalling 850,000 vehicles so pollution-testing equipment can be replaced.

The premiers of the German states of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia, which are home to the nation‘s key auto manufacturers, have also been invited to attend Wednesday‘s so-called diesel summit.

Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said ahead of the summit that the carmakers‘ plans for updating the emissions-testing software could only be a first step. What was needed was a more comprehensive technical makeover of the vehicles, she said.

The summit is also likely to consider the call from the VDA car industry association and state governments for state-backed financial incentives to help commercial operators phase out older diesel models.

About every third passenger vehicle in Germany is diesel-powered.

Adding to the pressure on the carmakers, a Stuttgart court ruled last week that diesel cars failing to meet emission standards could be banned on certain days from the southern German city - possibly paving the way for other cities to follow.

Both Britain and France are proposing to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel-powered vehicles by 2040 as part of a drive for electric vehicles.

In the meantime, Merkel‘s main challenger in the election, Martin Schulz, who heads up the left-leaning Social Democrats, has called for the authority regulating the carmakers (KBA) to be removed from the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Transport.

The Minister for Transport, Alexander Dobrindt, who is a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian-based allies of Merkel‘s Christian Democrats, has faced calls to resign over the emissions scandal from the environmental Greens.

There is an "absurd cronyism" between the KBA and the auto industry, Schulz claimed in an interview with the Hanover-based media group Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland.

 

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