Ger­man car cri­sis now a poll issue

The Star Early Edition - - INTERNATIONAL -

THE CRI­SIS grip­ping the Ger­man car in­dus­try has emerged as a new elec­tion cam­paign bat­tle­ground, forc­ing Ber­lin to call car bosses to an emer­gency sum­mit yes­ter­day to help re­store con­fi­dence in the mo­tor ve­hi­cle sec­tor ahead of the Septem­ber poll.

The sum­mit of gov­ern­ment lead­ers, unions and in­dus­try chief ex­ec­u­tives to con­sider the fu­ture of diesel-pow­ered ve­hi­cles comes in the wake of the emis­sions-test­ing scan­dal and claims that the auto sec­tor has op­er­ated a se­cret car­tel since the 1990s.

Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel’s con­ser­va­tives have come un­der fire for main­tain­ing a cosy re­la­tion­ship with the pow­er­ful car­mak­ers and for their han­dling of the emis­sions cri­sis.

The chan­cel­lor is cam­paign­ing for a fourth term in of­fice ahead of elec­tions on Septem­ber 24.

Yes­ter­day’s Na­tional Diesel Fo­rum – which in­cluded the heads of Volk­swa­gen, Audi, Porsche, BMW, Daim­ler, Ford’s Ger­man op­er­a­tions and Opel – comes af­ter VW ad­mit­ted in Septem­ber 2015 to cheat­ing on diesel emis­sions tests on more than 11 mil­lion ve­hi­cles around the world.

The pre­miers of the Ger­man states of Baden-Wuert­tem­berg, Bavaria, Hesse, Lower Sax­ony and North Rhine-West­phalia, which are home to the na­tion’s key ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers, were also in­vited to at­tend the so-called diesel sum­mit.

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Bar­bara Hen­dricks said the car­mak­ers’ plans for up­dat­ing the emis­sions-test­ing soft­ware could only be a first step. What was needed was a more com­pre­hen­sive tech­ni­cal makeover of the ve­hi­cles. – dpa

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