German carmakers attempt to save diesel fuelled vehicles

Posted on 7 Aug 2017 by Michael Cruickshank

A group of large German automobile manufacturers met last week in Berlin to discuss the future of diesel fuel cars.

Volkwagen was one of the major players at least week's diesel summit. Image courtesy of Flickr-Gerry Lauzon

Volkswagen was one of the major players at least week’s diesel summit. Image courtesy of Flickr-Gerry LauzonThe group, which included major companies such as Volkswagen and Daimler aimed to find ways to discourage local and national governments from banning diesel cars.

While initially billed as environmentally-friendly, diesel fuelled vehicles have been found responsible for significant amounts of nitrous oxide pollution in major European cities.

As well, some of the main producers of these vehicles have had their brands tarnished by the so-called ‘Dieselgate’ scandal where VW was found to be circumventing emissions standards.

These factors, as well as the emergence of increasingly advanced battery-electric vehicles, has caused some jurisdictions to consider banning these vehicles outright in the future.

Already the UK has banned sales of diesel cars and trucks from 2040, while the German city of Stuttgart, home of Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, has been given legal permission to ban diesel cars from its city center.

Lacklustre results

Following last week’s meeting, the automakers pledged to deploy a series of software updates to their vehicles which would allegedly reduce nitrous emissions by 25% – 30%.

Such updates would only be applicable to a portion of all diesel cars on the road, and moreover, some experts have questioned if the software updates would even have such a dramatic effect,

Additionally, it raises the question, if such dramatic pollution reduction could be achieved through software alone, why wasn’t it done initially?

Such promises appeared lackluster to politicians who are continuing to push for diesel bans.

“I fear that the promised software updates for newer cars and financial support for the owners of old cars will not be enough to protect the health of people in the cities,” said Munich mayor Dieter Reiter according to Reuters.

The death of diesel

Unless carmakers can seriously improve diesel technology in the next few years, it would appear that the technology is on its last legs.

While diesel could previously promote itself based on its lower CO2 emissions, in the face of viable electric alternatives, this is no longer seen as so important.

As well, as more and more jurisdictions move to ban or restrict these vehicles, they will become less and less attractive to consumers, eventually forcing their production into a death spiral.