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Workers assemble the third generation of BMW X5 Advance Diesel automobile on the production line.
Image: Imago/Zuma
Cars and Transportation

Germany considers retrofitting diesels: report

April 7, 2018

The German government could be planning a multibillion euro scheme to retrofit diesel cars to cut emissions. The government desperately wants to avoid diesel cars being banned from city centers.


The German coalition government is considering a plan to retrofit diesel cars affected by the emissions scandal, according to a report in German news weekly Der Spiegel on Friday.

Diesel car owners in Germany have been left in the lurch as they face potential city driving bans as well as lousy resale values due to multiple car makers cheating on emission tests and being unwilling to physically rectify the issues.

Read more: Volkswagen offers to buy back new diesels in case of city bans

Who will foot the bill for Germany’s pollution problem?

State support

The plan reportedly calls for the creation of a multibillion euro fund financed jointly by car companies and the German government to retrofit diesel cars with filtration technology. The process would initially target diesel engines for which retrofit kits already exist, mainly US export models.

The retrofitting would initially take place in regions under threat of driving bans, namely Stuttgart, the Rhine-Main area and Munich.

Read more: Diesel car sales tanking in Germany

Government dampens expectations

A Federal Ministry of Finance spokesman said there should be no government spending for projects outside of the priority measures outlined in the coalition agreement. "The program mentioned in the report is not one of these priority measures and is not known to the Federal Ministry of Finance.”

Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer told the German Press Agency: "We will be working hard in Meseberg (at a coalition meeting next week) with the aim of improving the air quality in our cities even further. Our guideline is the coalition agreement."

A spokesman for the Federal Environment Ministry said: "We need to retrofit older diesel cars. This is the only way to improve the air quality in the cities and the only way to avoid driving bans and stop the loss in value of diesel engines. It is the task of the Federal Ministry of Transport to implement this."

SPD deputy faction leader Sören Bartol said: "Industry has to make a choice: Either the diesel will be completely up against the wall when urban driving is banned, or it has another chance as a bridge technology."

Read more: Germany considering free public transportation to take on air pollution

Germany: Diesel ban approved

Industry hesitant

To date, German car makers have insisted on a software solution to their emissions fraud, arguing hardware upgrades are too costly and expensive.

Millions of German-made diesel cars, from various manufacturers, were rigged to defeat emissions tests. German carmakers have been accused of organizing a secret cartel to collaborate on emission controls, standards, technology, costs and suppliers for years.

In light of this, various German cities have been pushing to ban diesel engines from their highly polluted centers. Judges ruled in late February that such bans are legal if they are used to reduce levels of harmful fine particles and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the air. The government has been trying to avoid any such bans.

The current government is formed of a coalition between Angela Merkel's CDU, its Bavarian sister party the CSU, and the Social Democrats. Before committing to govern together they put together a contract that outlines the road map for the next few years.

The Grand Coalition will meet for its first closed meeting this Tuesday and Wednesday in the federal government's guesthouse in Meseberg Castle in Brandenburg.

Read more: Will taxpayers foot the bill for Dieselgate?

aw/bw (dpa, Reuters, AP)

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