Diesel summit: No revolution?

The diesel summit at which politicians and representatives of the automotive industry convened in Berlin has ended with a result that consumer protection agencies in particular are criticising as meagre. German carmakers that manipulated the emissions data of their diesel cars over a several years are to update not just the software but also the hardware in their vehicles. There won't be a revolution in Germany's car industry, commentators conclude, stressing that not just carmakers but also car drivers are responsible for the pollution.

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Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Car's status remains unchanged

The Germans won't give up their cars that easily, Lidové noviny comments mockingly:

“The Germans have been living with their cars since the times of Karl Benz. The car embodies Germany with all its evils (Hitler's Volkswagen) and all its virtues (no speed limits on motorways). Cars are part of the country's identity. A million jobs depend on them. If push comes to shove the car will survive, don't you worry! All the diesel summit produced was a software update for five million cars. It's barely worth mentioning. … The Germans sometimes come up with adventurous ideas. They decide on an energy turnaround, or to open their borders to everyone. But even the Greens won't be able to dethrone the car.”

Die Presse (AT) /

We're all responsible

The car companies aren't the only ones responsible for traffic pollution, Die Presse notes:

“The car drivers are also to blame - in other words, all of us. Since 1990 the total distance driven in Austria has risen by more than a third to almost 80 billion passenger kilometres. That's significantly faster than the population has grown over the same period. Moreover, cars have become bigger and heavier, partly due to increased safety features, and partly due to trends like SUVs. And those who spend their days going from traffic jam to traffic jam in two-ton vehicles needn't be surprised that exhaust fumes are a problem. Because personal responsibility also implies an awareness of the consequences of one's actions, even if they don't affect one directly.”

Sme (SK) /

Tesla could be the Europeans' downfall

In terms of production per capita Slovakia is world's biggest car manufacturing country. Sme is worried that the diesel crisis could damage the country's economy:

“When it comes to the transition to electric cars Europe is lagging so far behind that it could lose the race. Tesla is starting to become a serious rival. Given the extent to which the Slovakian economy depends on the car industry, the government's inactivity is criminal. If it doesn't start supporting the development and manufacture of electric cars our country will face a full-blown economic crisis. Yet the prime minister and the others in charge remain silent. It's time for this to change.”

tagesschau.de (DE) /

A summit for the car bosses

The summit's resolutions are a clear victory for the automotive industry, tagesschau.de writes in disappointment:

“The carmakers who lied and cheated came away with just a black eye, and the grand coalition once again failed to take a firm stand. But there's nothing surprising about that. Because the car bosses are also very much aware that this is an election year and the parties will welcome donations from the car industry. ... Even if the carmakers and politicians perhaps aren't embracing each other as warmly as in the past, they're far from kicking each other out of bed. So it's to be feared that not much will change, and that after the election the government and the car industry will silently return to their agendas.”

Kurier (AT) /

The protecting hand of Berlin

Kurier complains about the close ties between politics and the car industry in Germany:

“No one should be surprised that the summit produced not a quantum leap but an act of mercy: not only does this 'key industry' provide over two million jobs, it gets along so well because the political leadership holds its protective hand over it. Many managers spent years in CDU, CSU and SPD ministries before switching to the lucrative car industry. And Schröder and Merkel did lobby work in Brussels for their car bosses. The fear that Germany won't be a leading economic power anymore without its car industry is far too great.”

Le Soir (BE) /

Life punishes those who come too late

Europe's car industry is downright backward, Le Soir argues:

“It seems far more interested in trying to save all that can be saved by fudging the numbers than in inventing tomorrow's environmentally friendly cars. [This backwardness] was also highlighted by the global hype sparked recently by Elon Musk when he supplied the first 30 Tesla model 3 sedans to his employees. He's one of those visionary entrepreneurs who doesn't wait for restrictions or a helping hand from the authorities to put his own ideas into practice and expand horizons. The electric revolution is in full swing. ... And in view of the current dynamics we must fear that Europe's car industry with all the jobs that depend on it will miss the boat.”

Expressen (SE) /

Plan diesel ban with a sense of proportion

Sweden is contemplating introducing diesel-free zones in its inner cities. Expressen likes the idea:

“It's important to lower carbon monoxide emissions. Other particles and sulphur dioxide are also a problem. So a ban on older diesel models would be appropriate. … That's not to say that a diesel car that's not even ten years old and for which its owners once received an eco-bonus should be scrapped entirely. It can be used in rural areas, for example. If the move to get diesel cars out of the cities is spread over a few years, the drop in prices for used cars won't be as dramatic as it would be if the ban were introduced swiftly and relentlessly, as is the case in Stuttgart.”