Who benefits from diesel bans?

After Germany's Federal Administrative Court ruled that diesel cars can be banned from German cities in areas with high pollution levels, more and more people doubt that this type of car has a future. Journalists ask who's most at risk: industry or consumers.

Open/close all quotes
Le Quotidien (LU) /

Consumers will be the ones to pay

The judgement is a welcome gift to the automotive industry, which can now look forward to millions of people buying new cars, Le Quotidien writes:

“Once again the consumer is being taken for a ride while a carmaker like Volkswagen records net profits of 11.35 billion euros for 2017 and 5.1 billion for 2016, notwithstanding the biggest automotive scandal of all time whose cost for Volkswagen alone is estimated at at least 25 billion euros. To think for even a second that this sum won't be compensated for or recovered one way or another is simply to close one's eyes to reality, because the carmakers already have their hands in our wallets.”

Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

Diesel engines by no means running on empty

Helsingin Sanomat also isn't worried about the future of diesel:

“The pollution analyses, public opinion and diesel restrictions in cities will combine to force manufacturers to make fewer diesel cars and more electric ones. That said, any talk of the end of diesel cars is premature. Even if Paris, for example, introduces limits on diesel vehicles it will still need heavy vehicles for maintenance work - and they will continue to run on diesel for a long time to come. Along the same lines, diesel cars will also be competitive well into the future. Because customers who prefer diesel have sufficient buying power to have the cars fitted with efficient - and expensive - cleaning systems.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Scrapping dirty engines at last

The end of the diesel engine era is in sight, De Standaard comments jubilantly:

“It speaks volumes that the legal reality can shift so rapidly in the car nation par excellence. Whereas the planned grand coalition intended to handle the auto industry with kid gloves, the judges in Leipzig have hit the gas pedal. The carmakers are hoping to salvage what they can by recalling cars they have already sold to make them cleaner. But after the Dieselgate scandal their credibility is very low. The sales figures for diesel cars have been in freefall for months and the end of the diesel era is now truly within sight. ... Just as we can no longer imagine smoking in bars, at restaurants or at the office, diesel engines, too, will soon become a thing of the past.”

Expressen (SE) /

Time to stop buttering up business

The car industry and the politicians must now draw the right conclusions from the German diesel ruling, Expressen demands:

“The ruling should prompt many politicians to be self-critical. They saw the carmakers as too crucial for employment and the economy. And the authorities have yet to dare crack down on emissions. The many years of their turning a blind eye didn't come to an end until the Volkswagen diesel scandal in the US in 2015. ... This shows what a disservice Europe's politicians have done to the car industry with their accommodating policies. While the world is demanding clean cars, European carmakers have wasted billions on bad investments. Money they put into dirty models that no one dares to buy anymore.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Not in the interest of climate protection

The ruling is irrational and populistic, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung fumes:

“Is Germany to end up without any individual modes of transport? And is Germany's model industry with its millions of jobs to be ruined? The allegedly oh-so-dangerous technology gives no cause for this. ... The Federal Environment Agency, above suspicion when it comes to car lobbyism, expects cigarettes, fireworks and barbecues to generate more particulate matter than cars in Germany in 2020. ... CO2 is at the centre of the climate protection plan ratified in Paris. Energy-saving diesel plays a key role in adherence to the limits defined in the plan. Its combustion is more efficient and the consumption and CO2 emissions are far lower than those of a petrol-driven car. Banning all diesel vehicles from the roads would therefore sabotage the climate protection plan.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Will the ruling block innovation?

And the Financial Times fears that now too much time and money will have to be invested in an obsolete technology:

“[The] decision may have wider consequences beyond Germany, home to Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler. Those carmakers might now be forced to retrofit expensive hardware to reduce emissions of nitrogen dioxide in millions of cars. ... That could mean some of Europe's biggest employers end up spending billions of euros on outdated technology, at a time when their strategic and financial powers should be focused on a new generation of electric or autonomous vehicles.”

Kurier (AT) /

No reason to pity the carmakers

The carmakers themselves are mainly to blame for the looming bans on diesel, writes the daily paper Kurier:

“At first glance the ruling of the Administrative Court judges seems very over the top. After all, nitrogen dioxide levels have dropped constantly since 1995. And markedly at that - by a third in inner-city areas. At second glance, however, the carmakers only have themselves to blame for the ruling. Their crisis management after the VW emissions scandal was simply catastrophic. The company arrogantly assumed that Europe's closely allied politicians would come to their rescue. So they got away with cheap software updates even though technology for cleaning up emissions using urea tanks has been available for some time now.”