German cities allowed to ban diesels immediately

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Words: Nile Bijoux
21 May 2018

Germany’s top administrative court has allowed cities like Hamburg, Dusseldorf and Stuttgart to ban older diesel-powered vehicles immediately.

The ban is an effort to bring the air pollution levels of some German cities to the required level of the European Union. Germany’s largest cities have previously failed to meet mandatory local air quality tests, and ‘dozens’ of German cities are considering the bans to reduce nitrogen oxide levels.

Hamburg has already announced a ban of older vehicles from the end of this month but only in two streets. Every vehicle that doesn’t meet Euro 5 emissions standards from 2009 or before will not be able to use these roads.

In response, the German automakers are rushing to implement fixes for the worst-polluting models, with some predicting the ban will cause headaches to the tune of 14.5 billion euros. Only vehicles with Euro 6-compliance will escape the ban, or 2.7 million out of 15 million diesel vehicles registered in Germany.

The court suggested a phasing system for the ban, with pre-Euro 4 vehicles banned first. Euro 5 vehicles should not be banned until September 1, 2019, and some residents and tradespeople should be exempted.

Naturally, there was opposition from the industry. Lobby groups warned that NOx levels were about to fall dramatically as more Euro 6 vehicles received updated software, and to introduce the bans accordingly. Regarding the Hamburg decision, critics have pointed out that the ban may force dirtier diesels to drive further into the city centre to reach their destination.

The ban follows more anti-diesel news, as Audi became embroiled in the Dieselgate scandal, dragging Porsche in with it. Audi-built diesel engines were found to have emissions cheating devices fitted, causing a recall of over 60,000 vehicles.

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