German car crisis now a poll issue
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