German carmakers and government officials on Wednesday agreed on a package of software updates, trade-in bonuses and a public transit fund designed to reduce diesel exhaust pollution, but opponents called the agreement a “debacle” and vowed to press ahead with lawsuits seeking to ban diesel cars in major cities.
A sit-in protest forced the “diesel summit” to move from the Ministry of Transport in Berlin to the more secure Ministry of the Interior, underlining the growing strength of the environmental opposition in Germany. The protesters hoisted a sign reading: “Welcome to Fort NOx,” a reference to nitric oxide, the main chemical pollutant from diesel cars.
The summit, which was attended by politicians and executives from BMW, Daimler, Ford, Opel, and Volkswagen Group, which also includes Audi and Porsche, agreed that the carmakers would be allowed to recall about 5 million diesel cars to be fitted with new pollution-control software. The owners of another 5 million older diesel cars will be given trade-in bonuses of €2,000 to €8,000 ($2,370 to $9,470) by dealers to buy new, less polluting diesel cars.