1 billion euros shall help to clear the air over Germany from diesel fumes but Tuesday’s diesel-summit revealed that it is not (just) the money that missing, it is the electric vehicles. And time is running out.
Germany got a problem, a diesel problem that has lately been recognised by Angela Merkel and earlier by the EU authorities. The latter accuse German cities and towns of exceeding NOx emission limits regularly and penalties are imminent.
To prevent such fees but more so to prevent diesel bans in city centres, Chancellor Angela Merkel had asked representatives of German municipalities to come to Berlin for the second time. One billion euros are to become available today, according to the Chancellor, for municipalities to clean up their act.
350m of those shall buy electric buses. Yet, mayors of towns such as Stuttgart and Düsseldorf complain, saying even if the money would suffice to electrify buses, there are no vehicles to buy. Germany’s Minister for the Environment, Barbara Hendricks (SPD) summarised the situation saying, “We’d probably have to buy not only the Polish but also Chinese buses to meet our demand.”
Electric buses are not the only vehicles missing. Take Berlin’s mayor Michael Müller (SPD) who pointed out that not a single German manufacturer has brought an electric taxi to market. A missed opportunity, in particular now that the capital is looking to introduce a wide-ranging electric cab programme, according to electrive’s sources in Berlin.
In any case, even if vehicles can be bought locally or imported from abroad, it may be too late to prevent diesel-bans in Germany. A ruling by the Federal Administrative Court due on February, 28, 2018 is expected to lay the grounds for such restrictions to be introduced.
To ask who is responsible for the mess is to point the finger at all players: at the carmakers and their fraudulent practices, the regulatory bodies and their inadequate measures, and municipalities that reacted too slowly.
In the end, only a reduction of conventional traffic in general as well as electrification is needed. However, the latter requires structures that are only in the making.
electrive.net (in German)