German Transport Minister: It’s Still Too Soon To Talk Of Burying The Combustion Engine

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While announcing new plans to create a fund to support efforts by the country’s cities to reduce pollution and modernize their transport systems, Germany Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt commented that he thought that it was too soon at this stage to talk of “burying the combustion engine.”

Those comments were of course meant as a criticism of sorts for the move by the UK government to announce that the sale of new petrol/gas- and diesel-powered cars would be banned there by 2040.

As you may recall, a spokesperson for the German government was also publicly quoted following that announcement as saying that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had warned many times to not “demonize” diesel cars

Unsurprisingly — considering how much Germany depends upon the export of cars for its economic health — the German government seems to all of a sudden be getting worried about the threat posed by diesel car bans, by the eventual threat of petrol/gas car bans, and likely by the growing competitiveness of electric vehicles.

The recent announcement by Dobrindt mostly comes across as nothing but a PR stunt meant to counteract the announcement by the UK’s government, especially when one considers that the announcement didn’t include a timetable of any kind.

To say that again, there’s no timetable set for the release of the “hundreds of millions of euros” promised by Dobrindt — which will reportedly be used to aid cities in the optimization of traffic flows, and thus in a reduction of air pollution (to some degree or other). So, what was the point of revealing that there would be a fund at some point? Is Dobrindt taking a play from Volkswagen’s PR distraction playbook (endless announcements that never seem to actually lead to anything)?

Reuters provides clues to the answers to those questions: “Dobrindt was speaking ahead of an August 2 ‘diesel summit’ at which representatives of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, regional governments and carmakers will discuss ways to tackle diesel pollution.

“Car industry officials and politicians have already agreed to update the engine software of around 9 million cars as part of efforts to ward off diesel bans in major cities like Munich or Stuttgart, sources told Reuters last week. VW plans to offer to refit a total of 4 million diesel cars at the Aug. 2 meeting, Chief Executive Matthias Mueller said on Thursday after talks with Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks at the company’s Wolfsburg headquarters.”

To end this article on a light note, Dobrindt was also quoted as saying that despite the recent decisions by the governments of the UK and France to move towards electric vehicles, “it was still possible that carbon-neutral synthetic fuels could be as good as battery technology.”

“We still have technological decisions ahead of us,” he stated, before concluding that it wasn’t clear when electric vehicles would be ready for the mass market…

As a reminder here, regulators in Germany are currently investigating the possibility that Daimler, BMW, and VW Group, have been illegally acting as a cartel in recent decades — through actions such as possible price fixing, collaboration on emissions testing fraud, etc.

Related: Shell CEO Going Electric, Giving Up His Diesel Car For A Mercedes S500e

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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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