Automakers and green groups see defects in German diesel plan

Volkswagen factory Wolfsburg Germany

The German government presented strategies to curb pollution from diesel vehicles by asking automakers to offer owners trade-in incentives and hardware fixes, urging objections from environmental groups and grudging concessions from the industry.

After marathon talks, Chancellor Angela Merkel and leaders of her coalition partners declared in the early hours of Tuesday they had agreed on a way to curb pollution in the worst-affected German cities while preventing unpopular driving bans.

Owners of millions of older diesel vehicles in Germany’s fourteen most polluted cities should be able to select between trade-in sweeteners and hardware upgrades for their automobile.

Automakers, however, did not all commit to covering the expense of retrofits, as the hardware repairs are known, which could run into billions of euros.

They said instead the focus should be on prompting car owners to trade in their older diesel models for cleaner vehicles – which would bring a rise in sales, albeit at discounted costs.

Daimler gave arguably the strongest backing, saying it was ready to participate in the retrofit program and providing incentives of up to 10,000 euros ($11,564) for those swapping old vehicles for new Mercedes models.

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