German Court Delays Diesel Ban Decision.
Hint That Decision May Be Sent To Europe.
German judges in Leipzig failed to reach a decision in a case that would allow diesel cars to be banned from German city centers, and delayed their verdict until February 27, according to news agencies.
The agencies also said a decision might not be taken after all and be pushed on to a higher European court.
The AFP news agency said presiding judge Andreas Korbmacher wanted to deliberate the issue very thoroughly and delayed announcing the verdict until Tuesday.
Reuters quoted Korbmacher as saying the European Court of Justice might have to consider the issue of whether bans are permissible.
“We still see a considerable need for guidance,” he said before breaking off the Leipzig court hearing, according to Reuters.
The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig was expected to rule on an appeal by the states of Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia after lower-level judges ruled they could impose bans on some diesels in their respective capitals Stuttgart and Düsseldorf.
The environmental group Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) sued Stuttgart and Duesseldorf because it wants to allow municipalities to ban diesel cars from city centres and make sure clean air regulations are enforced.
A ruling would affect all vehicles sold before the latest “Euro 6” standards were introduced in September 2015.
If Germany bans diesels from city centers, other big European cities are likely to fall into line.
The legal action by DUH reflects frustration because of years of failure by federal, state and local governments to slash harmful emissions.
End of the line
If diesels are banned from city centres, this could spell the end for this form of propulsion across Europe because many cities have expressed a desire for similar bans.
If Europe’s car makers can’t use diesels, a crucial part of the plan to cut CO2 emissions and meet harsh European Union (E.U.) rules by 2021 would be eliminated. But the industry has alternative plans in place, given that ultra clean electric vehicles won’t be ready for prime time just yet. This gap in the market will be met by so-called “mild hybrids”.
The industry is investing heavily in these 48 volt hybrids which cost about 300 to 400 euros ($493). These systems produce the same low CO2 emissions as diesels.
Renault and Volkswagen are already offering 48 volt mild-hybrid engines instead of small diesels because costly after-treatment systems are likely to become mandatory to make diesels comply with tougher emissions regulations. These systems use the higher voltage to provide additional electrical power to drive an increasing number of electrical components in cars. The higher power can be combined with a belt-starter generator to assist acceleration and can increase fuel efficiency by between 10 and 15%.
In Germany, Europe’s biggest market, last month diesel sales dived to 33.3% of the market, from 45.1% in January 2017. Diesel sales are sliding across Europe, as the fallout from the Volkswagen dieselgate conspiracy soured its image. In 2011, 55.7% of all new cars sold in Europe were diesel. This has been on the slide and by 2025 its share of the market could reach to between 15 and 25%.
Peter Schmidt, editor of respected European newsletter Automotive Industry Data (AID) reckons whatever the court decides won’t make any difference. Diesel’s goose is already cooked.
“The diesel situation in Europe and Germany is a lost cause. The image of diesel has been so badly damaged that almost irrespective of anything from the court it is likely to disappear far quicker than some people could have projected,” Schmidt said.
The previous German government had agreed new regulations with the auto industry which green groups felt weren’t tough enough. It seemed the auto industry had won the argument, but environmentalists reckoned they could bypass this agreement by seeking bans in city centres.