By on March 13, 2018

As sometimes happens, there’s a war brewing in the heart of Europe. This one isn’t like the others, though — instead of nation versus nation, it’s a case of lawmakers versus privately owned vehicles, primarily those of the diesel persuasion.

So eager are some city governments to ban the operation of diesel-powered cars and trucks in or near urban centers, BMW Group has taken the unusual step of issuing a promise. In a bid to allay fears of new (or newish) vehicles becoming useless to their owners, the automaker claims it will let German lessees return their diesel vehicles and switch to a gas-powered model.

Don’t worry about the government, BMW wants its customers to know. Just enjoy that compression ignition engine while you can.

Bimmer’s diesel return promise works like this: If you’re leasing a vehicle when a driving ban goes into effect within a 100 kilometer (62 mile) radius of your home, the automaker will allow you to enter into a “comparable termination agreement” for another BMW Group vehicle. Obvious, a gasoline-powered vehicle would be the go-to, though you’ll really cover your ass by picking up some sort of hybrid.

The promise goes into effect on March 15th.

It amounts to peace of mind for nervous customers and would-be customers, but this isn’t the only “protection” on offer. Owners of BMW Group vehicles conforming to the older Euro 4 emissions standard (or its predecessors) are eligible for incentives on certain new vehicles. These include the electric BMW i3, plug-in hybrid models, or new BMW and Mini vehicles that comply with the Euro 6 standard. The incentive amounts to roughy $2,500.

While this promise also goes into effect on March 15th, it’s shelf life is short. The incentive dries up at the end of June. BMW claims the offer, clearly designed to get stubborn owners into showrooms, was made in the interest of fleet renewal and overall emissions reduction.

Diesel owners have a right to feel worried in Germany. The country’s top court recently ruled that cities and towns are within their legal rights to ban the operation of certain vehicles that pose a public health threat. It’s not just Germany, either — major hubs like London, Paris, Athens, and Madrid have proposed similar types of bans.

Seemingly, no internal combustion car is safe in the birthplace of the internal combustion car.

[Image: BMW]

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8 Comments on “Paranoid of the Government? BMW’s Got Your Back...”

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I used to be a fan of diesel engines for cars and even owned one. No more. Getting rid of all diesel engines and all coal fired power plants given economical alternatives can’t come soon enough for me. Exhaust treatment for diesel in heavy trucks is feasible in the short term because the expensive exhaust clean up systems can be amortized over the long lifespan of the truck. Small displacement diesel automotive engines IMHO are not cost effective over the long haul given the probability of expensive emissions system repairs over the lifespan of the vehicle.
    As a 66 year old, cancer free survivor of leaded gasoline emissions and untreated diesel emissions (mostly from trucks) I want to continue the environmental clean up that has progressed over the last 40 years.
    Let the crusher eat all of the diesels.
    Go ahead and flame away.

    • 0 avatar

      I was on the diesel bandwagon for a bit too, but like you, through evidence-based analysis, they just don’t make sense for average commuter vehicles. Gasoline engines are closing the gap of advantage diesels had over them – namely fuel economy and torque – by using DI and turbos. The initial cost outlay for a diesel just doesn’t make economic sense, especially when coupled with the DEF requirements and complicated emissions systems that will likely cost a lot to fix.

      Even in the realm of pickup trucks, they have become less sensible. If Ford, or any of the other manufacturers, would step up to the plate with a V8 EcoBoost-type engine, it would basically render the diesel obsolete for all but the most vigorous towing applications (and of course the Diesel Bro crowd will always still with the coal rollers).

      • 0 avatar

        So what is magical about the V8 exactly vs. the V6? You realize that the overwhelming majority of heavy truck engines are six cylinder, right?

        Though I tend to ultimately agree with you that diesel for less than the very heaviest duty service is something whose time has come and gone, and I have owned a BUNCH of diesels.

        • 0 avatar

          The magic is 2 extra cylinders and more displacement. I’m sure they could punch and stroke a current V6 EcoBoost to 4-ish liters, but is the juice worth the squeeze? Use a Coyote-based V8, strap twin turbos on it, give it a low-end torque cam profile and you have a beast of an engine that outperforms current Heavy Duty truck gas engines in every way.

          Big diesels are usually 6-cylinder, fashioned inline, because it’s inherently easier and stronger to make it that way.

    • 0 avatar

      If the “diesel engine” had to be invented with today’s “Clean Emissions”, it never would have. At least not for anything less than heavy duty and industrial type uses.

      And it took some heavy duty “industrial strength” type corruption by those in power in some markets to get diesels as far as they did in private, mainstream cars.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    Around these truck-intensive parts Diesel fuel is always more expensive than gasoline, rendering any fuel savings as negligible. I’ve never owned a Diesel-powered vehicle but many guys I work with drive one daily – all one-tons or three-quarter-tons – so that they can tow a big trailer to a campsite and back once or twice a year. Seems silly not to park those behemoths for 95% of the year and buy a Miata with the fuel savings. They’d be ahead in six months and keep pulling ahead for the next 20 years.

  • avatar

    Commute in a Miata and drive diesel 2x a year when you need it. Sounds good, but… you can’t let a vehicle sit for months on end.

    Not to mention space it takes up.

    Maybe if people could rent trucks as needed, then they could use more efficient cars as daily drivers.

  • avatar

    The absurdity and unfairness of these diesel bans really infuriatates me. You cannot convince me that this is being done as a means of improving public health, because owners of certain thirsty gasoline-powered cars (such as heavy SUVs and exotic sports cars) will be permitted to enter the city and pollute. Furthermore, if ‘public health’ and ‘air improvement’ were genuine reasons for this ban, then the government should also ban public smoking, industry, shipping and air travel.

    The air quality in Germany has continually improved since the 1970s. In fact most of the pollution, particulates and NOx are created by the industry, air travel and shipping – NOT diesel cars. This is why I do not believe the ‘public health’ argument.

    How absurd is it that my 2007 GL320 CDI EURO 5 will soon be banned from the city, but my beater 1995 Renault Twingo with EURO 2 (!!!) gets a free pass? Objectively seen the Renault is a dirtier car than the Mercedes diesel SUV.

    I didn’t buy my diesel cars because I wanted to ‘poison people’, I bought them because I need the fuel economy (and range) due to the fact that I tend to average 40,000 km a year. With a gasoline-powered vehicle my fuel costs would be stratospheric. Public transportation is out of the question because my work requires that I am mobile at all times.

    But I am not surprised. This is typical of the ‘shoot-first-ask-questions-later’ mentality of our idiot politicians and the fake news media which sells sensationalism.

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