Is this the beginning of the end for oil burners?
Diesel vehicles were once extremely popular throughout Europe, especially in Germany. While many are still on the road, the anti-diesel trend continues to grow in the wake of Dieselgate. As we first reported last week, a German court in Leipzig has now made its official ruling: major German cities are now allowed to ban diesel-powered vehicles outright. Why is this such a big deal? According to Automotive News Europe, this decision will also have major financial ramifications for cities and automakers alike.
Considering there are an estimated 12 million diesel vehicles in Germany alone, their values will likely plummet, putting owners in a difficult financial position. Furthermore, will those owners, many of whom bought diesels because they were promised excellent fuel economy, now sue the automakers for lost value? It's entirely possible. But the ruling itself, which came from Germany's highest federal administrative court, could also set a precedent for other European countries as well. "This is a groundbreaking ruling, and one which we expect has set a strong precedent for similar action across Europe," said one industry analyst.
Furthermore, this ruling is also an embarrassment to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has gone on record opposing diesel bans. The concern was that public transportation will be unable to handle the increased number of commuters who, in the near future, may not be able to enter cities in their personal vehicles. Then again, Merkel's government has been accused of having extremely close ties to German automakers, so it's hard to tell at the moment what exactly would happen. The court even rejected appeals by some German state governments. It ordered, specifically, Stuttgart and Dusseldorf, to amend their anti-pollution plans.
Analysts also expect German cities, at first, to begin banning older diesel vehicles with lower emissions controls. Retrofitting these vehicles would be extremely costly, and automakers are probably not too keen to buy them back. Whatever transpires, this ruling has far reaching consequences. It could be the beginning of the end for diesel.