BERLIN, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- Federal and state-level authorities in Germany raised the pressure on car makers on Friday to offer technical retrofitting measures, also known as hardware upgrades, in response to the "dieselgate" scandal.
Speaking to the press, German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer urged the automotive industry to implement fleet renewal programs and hardware upgrades for older diesel vehicles. "We will not tolerate any illegal defeat devices, we will not tolerate any cheating and manipulation," the CSU politician warned.
Scheuer said his ministry was currently in the process of developing guidelines for technical retrofitting measures. The ruling "grand coalition" formed by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Christian Social Union (CSU) and German Social Democrats (SPD) has recently unveiled a new "concept for clean air" which is designed to lower urban nitrogen oxide (NOx) emission levels without requiring diesel driving bans. The policy package includes provisions for fleet renewal incentives, as well as hardware upgrades for motorists in 14 cities most affected by air quality issues.
Hardware upgrades have been described by Environment Minister Svenja Schulze and several national environment groups as essential to achieve a significant reduction in NOx emissions without requiring driving bans. But this was previously resisted by Scheuer and most car makers. The transport minister's comments on Friday underscore a gradual shift towards a tougher stance adopted by legislators against the automotive industry in the diesel emissions scandal. Senior SPD politicians went as far as to demand the imposition of hefty fines against companies which refused to offer technical retrofitting.
Similarly, the German Federal Council, the upper house of parliament in Germany in which the 16 federal states are represented, called for a swift introduction of hardware upgrades on Friday. A motion filed by the states of Hesse, Berlin and Brandenburg appealed to the federal government to ensure that "the manufacturers assume their responsibility for, and the costs of" technical retrofitting.
Local administrative courts have already ordered municipal governments in Berlin, Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Hamburg to fully or partially banish older diesel cars from their streets as a final resort to lower NOx pollution levels and hence ensure compliance with European Union (EU) clean air regulations. The motion called on the grand coalition to create the legal framework for hardware upgrades in order to prevent driving bans.
The renewed attacks by German federal and state-level authorities on emissions-cheating car makers came on the same day as the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) confirmed it had ordered a binding recall for nearly 100,000 Opel diesel vehicles with illicit defeat devices. Unlike its larger domestic rivals Volkswagen and Daimler, Opel had previously evaded formal judicial scrutiny in the "dieselgate" scandal.