Over the past few months, both France and the UK announced plans to ban petrol and diesel cars by 2040 in order to accelerate the adoption of all-electric vehicles.
Now Germany is feeling the pressure and Chancellor Angela Merkel says that she is also considering a ban on petrol and diesel cars.
In an interview with SUPERillu magazine (via Automotive News), Merkel said that while she didn’t want to “name an exact year”, she admitted that what France and Britain did was “the right approach.”
While it’s the most open she has ever been about the idea, the Chancellor appears to still be hesitant to put this strain on the German auto industry, which employs over 800,000 people in the country and has a lot of political influence.
The never-ending “dieselgate” scandal is having a greater impact on German automakers than any other, especially since the more recent accusation that they banded together to create a cartel to collude on cheating the emission tests.
Merkel referred to the tactics employed by German automakers as “mistakes”:
“The auto industry needs to ensure that the mistakes that were made are corrected,”
German automakers are currently operating programs for diesel car owners to upgrade their vehicles and they can even be compensated for buying a new electric car to replace their current diesel car.
The Chancellor also expressed concerns that a ban on diesel and gas cars could hurt car buyers:
“The government needs to ensure that those who bought cars in good faith are not punished in the end with driving bans. We need to organize a smooth transition into the new era so that people keep their jobs. That is the challenge that the CDU and CSU will meet,”
It looks like there’s no concrete plan for now.
It doesn’t look like Merkel is going to be the one to make this happen. The whole rhetoric about hurting car buyers comes directly from the car industry’s playbook and it is a fallacy.
Emissions from vehicles are already hurting the public at a much greater rate than whatever impact on car options a ban would have on the market.
Furthermore, as we previously reported, we think those timelines for the end of new gas-powered cars are too conservative. Once all-electric powertrains, due to the falling cost of batteries, reach cost parity with internal combustion engines before accounting for cost of operation (gas and maintenance savings), there will be virtually no reason for buyers to want gas-powered cars over battery-powered cars.
At the rate battery costs are falling, it will happen soon (between 2020 and 2025) and the industry should transition their production capacity over the following 10 years.
Apparently, most automakers don’t agree with that timeline, but that’s what those bans are good for. They are sending a clear message to the auto industry that there’s a deadline on selling pollution-emitting products and they need to prepare for it.