The ruling Tuesday by Germany’s highest administrative court that cities and states have the right to impose driving bans on diesel vehicles won’t lead to an immediate prohibition but it does sound the death knell for diesel in Europe.
The Berlin government said immediately that it would push for other measures to reduce toxic emissions in order to forestall outright bans. But no amount of hemming and hawing will prevent the loss of billions in the value of diesel cars – a process that has already started and will accelerate with the ruling.
The resale value of diesel cars is sharply declining and will hit both owners and carmakers, who sell leased vehicles as used cars and are carrying them at a higher value than now warranted. In the meantime, whatever measures are taken to reduce emissions will restrict usage of diesel vehicles in one form or another, making them less valuable immediately.
The consequences from years of championing the diesel cars – including persistent fraud by automakers to deceive consumers – has caught up with Germany in dramatic fashion and there will be hell to pay. “Diesel bans are the bill for a government that has done nothing for 10 years,” former Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin, a member of the Greens party, commented on the ruling.