As several European countries work to end the sale of diesel cars, Germany is not making the transition quite so smoothly. The New York Times reports that as auto trends point towards the rise of the electric car, German political officials and automotive executives want to save the auto industry that the country so relies on.
So, rather than cut the cars, the country has chosen to cut emissions.
CNBC reports that German politicians and automakers recently met in Berlin for the “national diesel forum.” The officials decided to update the software of 5 million diesel cars to reduce nitrogen oxide levels by 25-30%. In an email statement by CNBC, Mike Ramsey, a car analyst at Gartner, said that this could be a step in the right direction for environmentally conscious policies.
“Diesel engines have been amazing at reducing fuel consumption, but the pollution they produce is costly to treat and the arc of transportation technology is bending towards electrification,” he said. “These announcements, paired with commitments to electrify powertrains, point to a cleaner future.”
But why not just cut emissions altogether? The German auto industry employs 800,000 people, according to CNBC.
However, some critics argue that these policymakers are not doing enough to reduce diesel’s impact on the environment. While some car damage is visible, such as a windshield crack greater than 3 inches wide needing repair, the global pollution of diesel fuel does not have a quick fix. Oliver Krischer, a German green party leader, said in a statement that the government is not holding the auto industry accountable, according to The New York Times.
“The government’s chumminess with the auto industry continues,” he said. “While China, California, Norway and many others are tackling electromobility, the government is turning Germany into a diesel museum.”
This energy back and forth comes slightly after a Volkswagen executive was charged for spearheading a diesel emissions scandal in the United States, where consumers purchased 489,612 clean diesel cars in 2014. In the Volkswagen case, software designed to limit emissions discovered a simpler shortcut — cheating.
The scandal has cost the company more than $25 billion, according to CNBC. Now, other German car companies are trying to clean up their act.
BMW, Daimler, Opel, and Volkswagen will be participating in the software change after approval from a federal transportation authority.