EU Commissioner Warns Against Diesel Car Bans, Says Auto Manufacturers Would Lose Means Of Investing In Electric Vehicles

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The European Union’s commissioner for industry, Elzbieta Bienkowska, has warned against proposed city-level diesel car bans, stating that if such bans were to go into effect, they would compromise the ability of auto manufacturers to invest in the development of electric vehicles (zero-emissions vehicles).

So, I guess that that puts the European Union firmly on the side of the German auto manufacturers, huh? That means it stands against general European public welfare but in the interests of wealthy members of Germany’s industrial and political systems. And people wonder why some are skeptical of the way that the European Union works in practice (rather than in ideals).

Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska, of course, worded her support of the German auto manufacturers and against diesel car bans in a somewhat veiled way, rather than overtly, but it’s no mystery what the implications of her statement are.

As quoted by Reuters, the letter reads: “While I am convinced that we should rapidly head for zero-emission vehicles in Europe, policymakers and industry cannot have an interest in a rapid collapse of the diesel market in Europe as a result of local driving bans. It would only deprive the industry of necessary funds to invest in zero-emissions vehicles.”

According to Bienkowska, the push should be towards “forcing carmakers to bring dangerous nitrogen oxide emissions into line with EU regulations (as worded by Reuters),” rather than outright bans.

Speaking cynically here, though, wouldn’t that just amount in practice to allowing for new opportunities for testing fraud? How would regulators ensure (presuming that they even wanted to) that auto manufacturers weren’t just continuing to game the system? An outright bans of diesel cars would forgo that issue completely. Hence the relatively wide support for the idea. Furthermore, we now know that plug-in cars have reached a point of general competitiveness and buyers want them. Why not ditch the diesel?

Reuters provides more: “In the letter, Bienkowska told ministers she was concerned that the latest emissions violations at Audi and Porsche were discovered by prosecutors and not Germany’s vehicle and transport authorities.”

“Bienkowska’s letter also called for all cars with excessively high levels of nitrogen oxide emissions to be taken off European roads, but said carmakers should act on a voluntary basis.”

A voluntary basis? Seriously?

Going on: “The commissioner did raise the prospect of an EU testing agency if national regulators failed to spot more emissions-test cheats.

“Munich, home to carmaker BMW, has become the latest German city to consider banning some diesel vehicles. Environmental groups say diesel bans in cities can cut nitrogen oxide emissions and force automakers to design cleaner vehicles.

“Experts who have seen the letter to ministers say the commissioner appeared to be bowing to carmakers’ demands.”

No shit?

On that subject, Reuters quoted the Bernstein analyst Max Warburton as stating: “Her letter contained some important statements that we believe show the industry’s lobbyists have scored a big win. They have likely argued that castigating or banning diesel would harm the industry’s earnings and employees, harm efforts to reduce carbon dioxide and harm owners of current vehicles.”

So, where does all of this leave European Union residents (and, more specifically, those living in cities that have proposed diesel car bans such as Stuttgart)? The same place as always — subservient to the interests of the ones with the money.


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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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