Almost two years after the start of the emissions scandal, the car industry still hasn’t learned much from the german environmental aid association’s point of view.
"I’m sure the automotive industry hasn’t heard the shot yet," jurgen resch, federal managing director of deutsche umwelthilfe, told the deutsche presse agency.
"The course and the placebo results of the diesel summit show that it is stubbornly clinging to the dirty diesel and, unlike american, asian or even french carmakers, is only half-heartedly turning to electric propulsion."
If jobs in the automotive industry in germany are to be preserved, this can only be done with vehicles that have low fuel consumption and honestly clean exhaust gases, said resch. In september 2015, VW admitted to emissions manipulation in diesel vehicles. In the federal election campaign, the debate about the future of diesel has once again gained momentum.
Resch believes that driving bans in cities for diesel cars are unavoidable to protect citizens from harmful nitrogen oxides. The decisions of the courts in dusseldorf, munich and stuttgart so far have spoken a clear language. "The state governments responsible for air pollution control must ensure compliance with air quality standards in 2018. And this can only be done – according to the courts – by imposing diesel driving bans in our polluted cities."
The "mickey mouse software changes" for better emission control agreed at the diesel summit did not change the driving ban for these vehicles. Hardware modifications are technically possible, but cost 1500 euros per vehicle. "The moment the auto industry realizes that the diesel driving bans are actually coming, they will at the very latest start to effectively retrofit the diesel cars."According to the car industry, retrofitting the engine itself is difficult, sometimes even impossible, and the potential for improvement is uncertain.
Resch voiced massive criticism of the relationship between the auto lobby and politics. "The structures between the auto industry and politics are so closely interwoven that state and federal governments of all stripes are perfectly remote-controlled," said resch, referring also to page-turners such as the current daimler chief lobbyist eckart von klaeden, formerly a close associate of chancellor angela merkel in the chancellor’s office. Resch spoke of the car lobby "ruling the roost". The industry is constantly warning of job losses, and politicians have no interest in clarifying the situation. The fundamental problem, he said, is the lack of control over economic activity.
The government’s toleration of cheap, ineffective diesel catalytic converters on the road has led manufacturers in the wrong direction. "Cheap scam diesels brought higher profits than the development of honestly clean and at the same time efficient natural gas, gasoline-hybrid or electric vehicles."
What is needed is a "radical change of course" in model policy – "away from noble land cars with almost exclusively diesel engines and towards lighter normal cars with clean and ideally emission-free engines," said resch. "As long as the industry continues to fight for its right to cheap, dirty diesels, it is digging its own grave. Jobs in german car manufacturing can only be preserved in the long term if the vehicles on the road are just as clean as those in the laboratory. I don’t see a future for dirty cheating vehicles."