By on July 21, 2017

vintage diesel fuel pump

With Paris, Madrid, Athens, and Mexico City all pledging to ban diesel vehicles from entry within the next few years, the fuel’s future doesn’t look particularly bright. While citywide bans like these are becoming increasingly popular in Europe, diesel vehicles still account for almost half of the continent’s registered vehicles.

Germany, which has been speedily moving away from the fuel since Volkswagen’s emissions fiasco, provided more than its fair share of those diesel-powered models. It’s been mulling over how to handle it’s own regulatory matters pertaining to the fuel and the rest of the European Union’s intense pressure doesn’t seem to have fazed it.

Instead of enacting the same transportation ban on diesel vehicles as seen in Paris, Germany has decided to furnish its automakers with the opportunity to clean up their act. Industry officials and politicians have agreed to implement software updates on existing vehicles specifically to keep them eligible for operation within major metropolitan areas. Considering Mercedes-Benz just offered to “voluntarily” recall 3 million Euro-spec cars fitted with diesel engines, that’s incredibly good timing. Likewise, Volkswagen Group claims it will update 850,000 Porsche and Audi vehicles equipped with larger diesel motors. 

The plan amounts to roughly 2 billion euros ($2.33 billion), with Germany’s automotive industry willing to expend around 100 euros per car. The benefit is that those potentially illegal vehicles get to stay on the road and the country looks like it actually did something. Ideally, it should result in some nine million existing vehicles conforming to Euro 5 or 6 emission standards — reducing NOx emissions by around 20 percent. However, when you look at some of the previous software-based emission fixes, a lot of those diesels behaved differently after being tuned while still emitting roughly the same amount of pollutants as before.

As difficult as this is to say, it may actually have been more responsible to ban diesels in major cities. While this is not an endorsement of the practice, banning diesels makes a future purchase less appetizing while also forcing current owners to use public transit solutions. Tangible results can be gained by legislating an unfair prejudice against diesel motors. Meanwhile, fixing an existing vehicle’s software just seems like a way to make it appear as if you’re doing something meaningful.

The European Union’s industry commissioner, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, addressed the continent’s transport ministers by threatening to ban diesel vehicles outright unless new and existing models are cleaned up before 2018. While a number of things would have to go her way to make that a reality, she can certainly draft a commission plan for the EU and get the ball rolling within that timeframe.

Reuters reports that a committee will be set up to measure the impact that updating diesel cars would have on individual communities and cities, with an aim of avoiding a sweeping ban. Auto industry executives and German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt are due to discuss diesel pollution at a summit on August 2nd.

Unlike Daimler and Volkswagen Group, BMW stated there was no reason for it to issue a voluntary recall ahead of the summit.

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53 Comments on “Germany Forced to Appear Proactive as Anti-diesel Prejudice Swells in Europe...”


  • avatar

    Whatever we may think of diesel, my exposure to Germany and Spain showed me that diesel is the fuel for 99% of the fleet. Cars, trucks, does not matter. Diesel is cheaper, and even at the same price, gets more mileage.

    I went to a BMW dealer at the Bodensee, while on vacation, for giggles. It looked the same as the ones in the US. In the entire dealer, there were only TWO gas cars…one was a new 335i in the showroom with every sport option, and the other was a used e46 wagon with the small six and a manual (OK, everything there was manual) Every other car, from the 7, the 5 the 3, and the 1 series, were all diesels. The whole parking lot.

    In Barcelona, there was a very occasional gas car….everything was diesel.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @Speedlaw
      In the TTAC alternative universe, you must have been dreaming and did not see eveyone dropping dead.Post this before the multifaceted troll has his say. Speedlaw after all the hooha about diesels status quo has not changed, except the Germans wabt Petrol engines as well.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      “Whatever we may think of diesel…”

      There’s no “thought process” you’ll pay a crapload more to buy, own and drive a gasoline car in Europe.

      Is it still a “natural choice”, when there’s practically a gun to your head???

      • 0 avatar

        @DenverMike: We actually proved your point. We rented two cars…one was a 320d, and the other a 316i. The fuel price when we were there was cheaper for the diesel, and at $10/gal we drove from Berlin to the Bodensee, in a loop around Bavaria and lower Germany. The gas car ended up using two more tanks of fuel (@ $120 or so USD per fill) than the diesel car. Worse, the 320 d totally stomped on the 316, to the point where I was holding back quite a bit on speed unlimited portions not to lose the rest of the party.

        If I lived there, the diesel car would be totally worth it and the overage would pay back quickly. Here in the US o A, my experiment with a TDi showed that here, diesel is just a waste of money unless you drive a Kenworth or Freightliner.

    • 0 avatar
      JDG1980

      The only reason diesel passenger cars were so popular for so long in Europe was that the laws were set up to specifically encourage it. The taxes on diesel fuel were far lighter than those on gasoline, and diesel cars were subject to more lenient pollution regulations that allowed very high levels of NOx emissions. Urban air quality was sacrificed for minimal reductions in fuel usage and CO2 emissions. None of this makes sense from an environmental policy standpoint, so I suspect that in large part it was disguised protectionism – European manufacturers made passenger car diesels, while American and Japanese manufacturers, for the most part, did not. By favoring diesel fuel, the Euros could still piously be in favor of “free trade” while actually making American and Japanese cars too expensive for most buyers.

      In the United States, once EPA regulations kicked in, diesel stopped making much sense for anything smaller than a light truck. It just can’t compete on a level playing field. Dirty diesels can get better fuel mileage than gasoline cars, but diesels compliant with EPA or Euro-6 regulations don’t do much better than the best gasoline cars. And they require expensive and complicated pollution control systems (DPF and urea injection) that gasoline cars don’t need. The Prius has a much better reliability record – gasoline hybrids beat genuinely clean diesels in both efficiency and TCO.

      • 0 avatar
        W210Driver

        I believe it is the other way around. Diesel fuel is cheaper, yes, but diesel cars are actually taxed higher because of their emissions. The reason why diesels are popular in Europe is because of impressive fuel economy and range. Also, the EU focuses more on reducing CO2, which favored diesels over gasoline-powered vehicles. A German friend explained this to me not too long ago, but someone from Europe can hopefully correct me if I am wrong.

        The last time I was in Europe I visited Paris, Rheims, Lyon, Heidelberg, Affalterbach and Stuttgart and the air quality seemed perfectly breathable in the major cities. This was in the summer of 2015.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @W210Driver
          CO2 was the big driver in Europe. LA pollution is very very rare

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          @W210Driver – There’s no disputing the greater MPG of diesel cars, especially older, pre emissions diesels, and more so vs. older gasoline cars.

          Today the difference isn’t as great, diesel vs gas, but that “difference” has mattered a great deal more in Europe, thanks to their unreasonably high price of fuel (after fuel taxes). And since Europe bases other sales/ownership taxes on engine size (displacement), a much smaller turbo-diesel can do the job of a bigger gas engine.

          US regulations, EPA/CAFE don’t regulate or tax “engine size”. Regulating “MPG” (at the manufacturer level) is a more subtle approach, vs Europe, and hasn’t pushed consumers either way, into buying gasoline or diesel cars. US consumer can make a natural, or unforced choice depending on their situation, driving habits, etc, and yes, preferred MPG.

        • 0 avatar
          Tele Vision

          While renting a car in Ireland 10 years ago I asked what was so special about the ‘Top Shelf’ rentals. I’d booked a Ford Mondeo, which was then a sublime car when equipped a manual. I was told that the premium rental cars were ‘sportier’ due to being Diesels.

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    Actually Germany has been the one doing all the pushing.
    “Germany pushes to force the EU to BAN petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030”

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      That move has yet to yield any legal fruit. The Bundesrat was focusing on banning the sale of new diesel cars by 2030, while this matter seems more like a social bandaid to avoid any city-wide bans of existing vehicles.

  • avatar
    TR4

    So, are those cities also going to ban diesel powered buses, boats, locomotives, trucks, construction equipment and so on?

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      It is easier to get larger Diesel engines to pass emissions; so they will not be banned. Corporate customers are also more willing to pay for and maintain emissions equipment.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      TR4,
      Most EU rail is electric.

      Most EU cities are more compact than Aussie, Canuckian and murican cities.

      Conjestion.

      Now, take a look at what a conjested city reliant on gasoline is like. Pick most any Asian city.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    The negative/cancerous health effects of breathing diesel exhaust has been widely known for decades, so it’s bizarre, mind boggling, Europe has taken this long in taking steps to fix their self imposed, human catastrophe

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      When the majority of your citizens smoke tobacco, the effects of diesel particulates may be harder to track. I know folks smoke less than they used to when I lived there in the 1990s.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I suppose this is what occurs when something is artificially supported.

    All countries make this error.

    Like VW, diesel will take a short term hit, then bounce back.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      @BAFO – When given a natural, unforced and non subsidized “choice”, diesel cars will lose almost every time! In 1st World countries concerned with the health and well being of their citizens, would you expect anything less?? Especially now and in the future, with excellent electric, hybrid and gas choices.

      Once diesel cars almost go away completely, for what reason would they ever come back strong?

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        If the US was concerned about it’s people’s health you wouldn’t have the 36th worst health system in the world.

        And the most expensive per capita to manage.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          @BAFO – Those keeping air quality ‘fit to breathe’ have no say in health care regs.

          Me, I’d rather not get sick, or cancer, regardless of who has to pay my medical bills.

          Europe knowingly put its citizens health in at risk, for the sake of slightly less overall fuel consumption. Beyond stupid. Asinine.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            Is diesel the unpreventable byproduct of refining gasoline? If so, what do you do with it if diesels go away? Not sure if the trucking industry in Europe can suck it all up. I guess they could sell it to the US…lol.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            DenverD_ck,
            Then why is the average life expectancy higher in the EU than the US?

            Why is infant mortality lower in the EU than the US?

            It seems the Europeans are doing a better job at preventing death of it’s people than the US.

            Just use google.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @BAFO – That’s beside the point, but were a young country, live a little too fast, die a little too young! We also lose way too many teenagers for too many reasons.

        • 0 avatar
          markf

          “If the US was concerned about it’s people’s health you wouldn’t have the 36th worst health system in the world.”

          This must be why we are all dead

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            markf,
            Not quite, you guys just don’t live as long or have a great a chance of living as an infant from birth.

          • 0 avatar
            markf

            “Why is infant mortality lower in the EU than the US?”

            The myth of US Infant mortality that just won’t go away……

            http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/oct/3/editorial-the-statistics-of-life/

            https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/10/why-american-babies-die/381008/

      • 0 avatar
        W210Driver

        You really believe that our government cares about our health?

        Sick people are good for the medical and pharmaceutical industry. There is money to be made from people in poor health. The American medical system is a joke and partially still listens to the junk science from the 19th century which prescribed male genital mutilation for bed-wetting! Our medical system is about making money, not treating people in need. If you have no insurance (or job) then good luck finding an American doctor who will treat you.

        If you value your health then follow these two easy steps. Ready? Number one, eat right, and number two, get exercise.My relatives in Europe, who have been exposed to “diesel exhaust” for decades, are doing perfectly fine health-wise. The poor health of Americans is due primarily to poor dieting and lack of excercise. Europeans eat healthier and get more excercise and despite being exposed to “diesel exhausts” are healthier than the average American.

        I will proudly drive my 1998 Mercedes E300 TurboDIESEL until the day it dies, which isn’t anytime soon.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          “My relatives in Europe, who have been exposed…”

          After your conclusive study, I’m baffled Europe isn’t backing down from their current assault on diesels.

          Yes the US medical “system” is a joke! I’m glad you had the chance to vent though, especially about the circumcision thing! But strictly *off topic*.

          Except it’s the EPA/CARB that’s concerned about what the air quality Americans breathe and what comes out of tailpipes, not the US medical system necessarily.

          Yes Americans have poor diets, BAFO alluded to that earlier, but again, off topic. But none of it is an excuse for EU officials acting badly when they absolutely knew (for decades) diesel emissions harm and kill humans.

          • 0 avatar
            Mandalorian

            The vast majority of health problems in the US are caused by preventable lifestyle factors, our healthcare system isn’t bad, our intelligence level is.

        • 0 avatar
          markf

          “You really believe that our government cares about our health?”

          It’s not the governments job to “care about healthcare” And when Governments “care” so much like in the UK you end up with cases like baby Charlie Gard, his parents have raised their own money to treat him, doctors in the US (with their apparently inferior pediatrics) have offered to treat him for (Greedy doctors!!!!) and the “caring” Gov and EU courts have sentenced him to death.

          Cause when the Gov owns your healthcare, they own you pure and simple. Charlie is sentenced to die because the bureaucracy cannot be questioned.

  • avatar
    W210Driver

    It’s really amusing how everyone is suddenly an “environmentalist” and is hating on diesel engines. This is especially true if you are driving a large SUV or a sports car.

    Look, I understand that most of us are car enthusiasts. But I think it is a bit hypocritical to hate on diesel engines while going out for a joy drive in your sports car. Right? Let’s face it. Nobody needs a sports car since taking it out for a spin to have some fun serves no purpose; it’s a personal indulgence on your part. And that indulgence also creates pollution. You do it and I do it (My second car is a rare 1997 E420 W210 which is my “sports sedan”).

    Cars pollute. This is a fact of life. It does not matter whether it is powered by gasoline, diesel, is a hybrid, is an electric car and so forth – they all pollute. The more fuel your car uses, the more dirt comes out of the tailpipe (and in the case of electric cars the more energy needs to be produced for the grid in order to charge them). Mobility creates pollution. For now we cannot escape that fact.

    When I bought my 1998 E300 Turbodiesel I couldn’t have cared less about emissions. I wanted an economical premium wagon that provided me with luxury and the highest levels of comfort for my long journeys. The E300 Turbodiesel was the only product available at the time to fulfill these requirements. I enjoy the comfort and the range which suit my lazy, relaxed driving manners. My E300 Turbodiesel has been very reliable and low maintenance, which is why I will be holding on to it for a very long time. As I have no plans on purchasing a new car, I am not directly involved in the pollution process which occurs when a new car is built and shipped to its destination. My car has already been built and 19 years later it still works and drives perfectly fine. As far as I am concerned the dirt coming out of the tailpipe is the only harmful thing my car is currently contributing to our environment. Well that and of course brake pad dust (particulates) and tire wear and tear (particulates).

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      “Cars pollute…It doesn’t matter…gasoline, diesel…”

      Actually untreated, raw diesel emissions are especially harmful to humans and unborn babies. Gas engine (raw) emissions aren’t nearly as harmful and have had full, clean emissions for many decades now.

      When it comes to pre emissions TURBOdiesels, yeah what’s not to love?? I happen to like a lot my ’06 Power Stroke. It has big power from a huge variable-vain turbo, 32 valves (V8), with just a simple EGR and soot trap. Plus a very robust 5-speed auto. I try not to breath its exhaust much or leave it idling for very long. Me, I obviously care little of my health “down the road”, and a just had a huge Coke with my Meat Lover’s Pizza…

      Go ahead and call me a hypocrite, but I don’t have the health of millions at my disposal. Someone or some people (officials) in Europe should have to answer *why*. They have blood on their hand!!!

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Yes, let’s eliminate catalytic converters and industrial pollution controls. Since we’re going to pollute anyway, who cares about the degree.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        For diesel? Precisely. The technology isn’t as popular as you think so sales won’t be much, but just to make you happy production could be limited to X (which would keep it out of the hands of most proles).

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    Norwegian here, I have a colleague who was en route to buy a CX5 with a gas engine – cheaper and less threatened by regulations than its counterpart – with a manual gearbox. Seconds before signing the contract he veered off and decided on a diesel automatic anyway. Civil engineer and I have since been pounding him with intros like: “Since your judgement has recently been impaled…”.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    So do they have coal rollers in Europe or is that just an American thing?

  • avatar
    markf

    Germans know what a disaster passenger diesel is. All cars in Stuttgart have a sticker on their windshield, identifying their air quality. Green is the lowest level of pollution. All gasoline engines get a green sticker. Newer diesels can qualify for green (this was before the diesel cheating scandals)but any diesel older than a few years gets a yellow sticker meaning they cannot drive in certain parts of downtown. On days the city determines to be extra smoggy yellow stickers are further restricted.

    Officials all over Europe have know for a long time that diesels are harmful to be people but because they were so invested in Global Warming they chose to ignore it.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2720341/The-Great-Diesel-Scandal-Obsessed-CO2-emissions-politicians-bullied-bribed-buy-diesel-cars-knew-toxic-fumes-killing-And-guess-drivers-hit-extra-taxes.html

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      I just don’t understand why EU officials responsible for the diesel catastrophe aren’t facing major prison time.

      Even CAFE starts to look good, after that disaster! And a huge reason for wonky EU regulations are protectionist measures for EU automakers.

      • 0 avatar
        markf

        “I just don’t understand why EU officials responsible for the diesel catastrophe aren’t facing major prison time.”

        I am sure they won’t because it was done “for science” and Global Warming. I lived in Germany for 5 years and often heard the supposed benefits of diesel. Lots of folks like them, I get it but I never like them. Loud, stinky (even the new ones) and slow. I rented a brand new Ford Mondeo wagon last September on a visit back. With a 6 speed manual. Yes, a manual, diesel, wagon. Alas white not brown. It was very nice, well made car. Loads of room. But the engine was a dog. I’ll take gas any day.

        Paris has to have no car days now because the (diesel caused) smog gets so bad. France is a great example of having diesel shoved down your throat, literally and figuratively.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          At some point, around the early ’90s, EU officials had to know of the direct physical harm they were perpetrating on EU citizens. Gasoline cars had full emissions by then, yet EU officials continued plowing right ahead, basically forcing dangerous, dirty unfiltered diesels on to the European people and the air they breathe.

          They’re still suffering and dying, and will continue doing so, because of “policy”. All diesels should be banned in Europe immediately. There’s just no other way to deal with this mess.

          • 0 avatar
            markf

            Agree, but the obsession with CO2 and Global Warming took precedence over citizens health.

            Passenger diesel has always been a terrible idea. The VW cheating scandal just proves what everyone knew, there was no real way to make passenger diesel emissions “clean”

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            It’s not that diesel passenger cars can’t have truly clean emissions, but at that point, MPG and power take a sharp nosedive. It leaves you wondering, “what’s the point?”.

  • avatar
    dmoan

    Well it seems EU is probing German Automaker on price fixing and running what essentially will be a cartel. Things are not looking good for Volkswagen, BMW and MB.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Eventually most diesels will disappear as will gasoline. It will take at least a generation maybe 2 but there will be more electric and alternative fuel powered vehicles. The biggest obstacle to electric is the range of the batteries, the weight and size of the batteries, cost of the batteries, and the lack of infrastructure. With the European mandates and with China increasing production of electric vehicles this will happen even without the US. In the meantime more use of hybrid power plants in vehicles. For those who currently own a diesel and ICE there will be plenty of time to use your current vehicle before all these changes happen.

    • 0 avatar
      markf

      nah ICE will outlast them all. Gas is cheaper, more efficient and has a world-wide distribution network. Electric will die off as soon as the Gov subsidies die out

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    For all the diesel vs. gasoline vituperation going on here, I think it is worth pointing out a significant actor with civil culpability in the Diesel Disaster are the regulators themselves. I don’t see these questions being asked:

    1. Why doesn’t the universe of EU pencil-pushers and their American counterparts actually test production cars for emissions?

    2. Why do the bureaucrats completely escape civil liability and public criticism for their egregious failure in all this? If it hadn’t been for an American (private) entity actually, you know, looking at physical output of some cars doing some real QA engineering on the product, this would still be going on unknown to all.

    3. Another question about the bureaucrats: Why, for all the political animosity between automakers and the eco-crews ensconced in regulatory firmaments, do they depend on an honor system for regulatory affirmation? Doesn’t the eco-world think the worst about automakers? Why the checkbox-paperwork honor system for a cabal inherently not trusted?

    4. After this big diesel mess, why doesn’t anyone recognize that whole regulatory scheme has to change into a real one that randomly measures physical output of production cars – in all things, from crashes to emissions?

    The institutionalized regulatory setups throughout the West have been exposed as easily duped and not credible at face-value, and will continue to be so long as problems I elucidated above remain.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Personally, I wouldn’t have a diesel car/truck/CUV. For locomotives, buses and semis, as well as other heavy equipment, fine.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Neither do I want a diesel. Smelly, dirty and noisy. I do not drive enough to justify the cost of a diesel. I would rather have a hybrid.


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