German carmakers finalize concrete plans for diesel software updates

Source: Xinhua| 2018-08-31 23:32:17|Editor: yan
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BERLIN, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Germany's major carmakers have finalized concrete proposals for voluntary software updates in vehicles affected by the "dieselgate" scandal, the German press agency (dpa) reported on Friday.

The country's automotive industry faces a looming deadline on Sept. 1 when the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) begins assessing whether the updates in question are successful in lowering nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and will hence receive its regulatory approval. According to dpa, Volkswagen, Daimler, BMW and Opel are all on track to meet the deadline for software changes which they hope will spare them from having to commit to costlier "hardware" upgrades of diesel exhaust systems.

The Volkswagen Group told dpa that it had submitted corresponding plans to cover its portfolio of 12 brands. The Wolfsburg-based company is Germany's largest carmaker with gross combined revenue of 230 billion euros (267.6 billion U.S. dollar) in 2017 and the only industry representative so far to admit to illegal emissions cheating practices to judicial authorities.

Similarly, Stuttgart-based Daimler announced on Friday that all plans for software updates would be presented to the KBA on time. The changes concern nearly three million diesel vehicles in total, and roughly one million in Germany alone. Daimler announced a first round of updates back for 300,000 Mercedes-Benz cars in 2017 which has been approved by transport regulators and is now 95 percent complete.

BMW has already forwarded "all necessary documentation" directly to the KBA, a spokesperson for the Munich-based carmaker said. Ruesselsheim-based Opel also confirmed its compliance with the deadline and stressed that its software updates for the majority of relevant vehicles had "already taken place."

Diesel vehicles sales have slumped recently in Germany given the risk of driving bans being implemented by cities to lower NOx emissions levels following a corresponding landmark ruling by the Federal Administrative Court.

According to a study by the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), the share of diesel vehicles amongst newly-registered cars in Germany fell from 41.3 percent during the first half of 2017 to 31.1 percent during the first half of 2018. In a move which could further exacerbate the situation, the Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) is demanding an end to the privileged treatment of diesel vehicles by German tax authorities.

The UBA estimates that diesel cars are responsible for more than 50 percent of harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in the Germany. NOx levels currently exceed binding limits set in EU clean air legislation in several major German cities, prompting the European Commission to file a still-unresolved lawsuit against the federal government in Berlin at the European Court of Justice (CJEU).