Germany to Cities: Go Nuts With the Diesel Bans, Starting Now

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

It’s open season on compression ignition vehicles in the Fatherland. The birthplace of the diesel engine now says German cities can implement diesel driving bans whenever, and wherever, they want.

The Friday ruling by the country’s top court comes after a lawsuit against Germany and four other European Union member states by the EU, the result of higher-than-allowed air pollution levels in numerous urban areas.

“Thanks, dad,” the country’s auto industry must be thinking.

While this may seem like a heavy-handed, “ Euro Sausage” type approach to the affairs of European nations by the EU, smog-causing nitrogen oxide isn’t a pleasant gas, and diesel vehicles — older ones especially — are the main culprit.

Germany’s top automakers, each a longtime proponent of diesel technology, stand to lose money and customers as the public, fearful of planned or future bans in their own cities, flock to gas- or electric-powered offerings. Hamburg is expected to implement a diesel ban by the end of the month. Other large cities, like Stuttgart, Dusseldorf, and Munich, could soon follow.

The ruling by the country’s administrative court in Leipzig states that cities can ban the use of diesel-powered cars and trucks on certain roadways, or sections of them, immediately. There’s no grace period. One caveat is that vehicles conforming to ultra-stringent Euro 6 emissions standards would still be allowed. This standard came into effect in 2015.

For broader areas of cities, local governments are allowed to implement a phased approach that allows the operation of vehicles meeting Euro 4 emissions standards (in effect from 2005 to 2009).

The ball really got rolling on diesel bans back in February, when Germany’s top court ruled that environmental groups could sue cities that aren’t taking proper action on enforcing European air pollution rules.

Once the court opened the door to driving bans, sales of diesel cars plunged roughly 25 percent in Germany in March (after sinking 19.5 percent in February and 17.6 percent in January). Incentives appeared on some diesel cars.

In the home country of Volkswagen Group, the automaker is currently in the midst of fixing the emissions software on 2.8 million vehicles. Mercedes-Benz and BMW could be forced to offer upgrades for vehicles with non-Euro 6 engines. According to Reuters, research firm Evercore ISI estimates the ruling could cost the country’s auto industry $17.1 billion.

[Image: ©2017 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • JD-Shifty JD-Shifty on May 20, 2018

    wow, look at all the racists and trump base morons on this site

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    • Markf Markf on May 21, 2018

      @Big Al from Oz What groups are those pal? muslims? Not a race. MS-13? Not a race. So tell me again what race are "immigrants" and how is opposing them "racists"?

  • St.George St.George on May 21, 2018

    We used to live in Germany (Cologne to be exact) and moved back to the US in 2015. A couple of points:- - Fuel is expensive (taxation policy), diesels are/were therefore very popular. We had a 2008 VW Golf Kombi (known as a sportwagon here) TDi, very torquey, tiny hp but amazing on fuel. - German cities can be very grimy, I biked to work through Cologne every day, black particulates cover everything (these could come from diesel vehicles &/or the coal powerplants) - The coal industry is huge and very powerful politically. There are several massive opencast coal mines & neighboring coal fired powerplants to the West of Cologne. Trying to keep your home windows clean is very difficult.... - Everyone was always ill with low grade colds & respiratory ailments. Anecdotal for sure but obviously prevalent. It's noticeable how much cleaner things seem back in the good 'ol US. I'm sure it's not just the diesel thing but a combination of factors. Just my 5c worth.

    • Markf Markf on May 21, 2018

      I returned in 2016 after living in Germany for 5 years. Agree on your observations plus, the two times I went to Cologne I found the city to be overwhelmed by the stench of urine.......

  • Wjtinfwb Funny. When EV's were bursting onto the scene; Tesla's, Volt's, Leaf's pure EV was all the rage and Hybrids were derided because they still used a gas engine to make them, ahem; usable. Even Volt's were later derided when it was revealed that the Volt's gas engine was actually connected to the wheels, not just a generator. Now, Hybrids are warmly welcomed into the Electric fraternity by virtue of being "electrified". If a change in definition is what it takes, I'm all for it. Hybrid's make so much sense in most American's usage patterns and if needed you can drive one cross-country essentially non-stop. Glad to see Hybrid's getting the love.
  • 3-On-The-Tree We also had a 1973 IH Scout that we rebuilt the engine in and it had dual glass packs, real loud. I miss those days.
  • 3-On-The-Tree Jeff thanks. Back in 1990 we had a 1964 Dodge D100 with a slant six with a 3 on the tree. I taught myself how to drive a standard in that truck. It was my one of many journeys into Mopar land. Had a 1973 Plymouth duster with a slant six and a 1974 Dodge Dart Custom with 318 V8. Great cars and easy to work on.
  • Akear What is GM good at?You led Mary............................................What a disgrace!
  • Randy in rocklin I have a 87 bot new with 200k miles and 3 head gasket jobs and bot another 87 turbo 5 speed with 70k miles and new head gaskets. They cost around 4k to do these days.