German carmakers under pressure to do more to curb harmful emissions


German carmakers faced renewed pressure on Thursday to agree to expensive and far-reaching makeovers of diesel vehicles in order to help clean up the air in cities and head off the threat of car bans in urban centres.

The car groups agreed at an emergency summit in Berlin on Wednesday to measures to cut emissions, including spending about 500 million euros (592 million dollars) on upgrading software in 5.3 million diesel cars.

But even with the software updates, new diesel models will exceed the limit on harmful nitrogen oxides, said Peter Mock, who heads up the European operation of the International Council on Clean Transportation.

Mock was one of the key figures in exposing the diesel emissions scandal that forced Europe's biggest auto maker, Volkswagen, to admit two years ago to cheating on pollution tests worldwide.

The Berlin summit, which was also attended by government leaders, agreed to incentives for scrapping older diesel models as well as the creation of a 500-million-euro fund to promote cleaner urban transport systems.

However, the carmakers have refused to agree to comprehensive technical makeovers of their diesel vehicles, which analysts estimate could cost about three times the software update.

Meanwhile, Munich became on Thursday the latest German city to consider banning diesel vehicles due to air pollution concerns.

Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter said he believed "the promised software updates for newer vehicles and financial support for the owners of older cars will not be enough to protect the health of people in the cities."

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