Diesel's future

Hanging in the Balance

main 15273303 Reuters – wreckage old car carried by crane at a junkyard in Hanau 40 km south of Frankfurt
Recall and recant: German automakers want to clean up diesel cars. Source: Reuters

Two years after Dieselgate, it seems German carmakers are finally coming to terms with reality: diesel cars stink and something needs to be done about it.

As more and more European cities introduce or consider diesel bans to cut high levels of toxic smog, alarm bells have been ringing in the boardrooms of VW, Daimler and BMW. And this year anti-diesel sentiment arrived in their backyard. Stuttgart, the home city of Daimler and VW-subsidiary Porsche, proposed a ban on diesel cars. Munich, home to BMW, Hamburg and Berlin could follow suit.

Because of the bans, diesel sales, which accounted for up to 73 percent of VW, Daimler and BMW’s European vehicle sales last year, have fallen in Western Europe as a percentage of total car sales. From January to May this year, absolute vehicle sales dropped 2.4 percent.

The worrying trend has now forced carmakers to take action. Handelsblatt has learned that to stave off the bans, the chief executives of the three firms have proposed recalling older diesel models sold in the EU and updating engine software so they emit less toxic gas.

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