German automakers have agreed to software upgrades on older diesel vehicles to reduce NOx emissions. The agreement, while sounds good, is actually the automaker’s attempt to avoid more costly hardware fixes and ditching diesel engines entirely.
Diesel engine emissions have been strict for the last couple of decades. As such, the German automakers have spent billions developing the technology necessary to [supposedly] meet the strict emissions requirements. Naturally, none of these automakers are too excited to just ditch diesels.
Bloomberg reports that Volkswagen AG, BMW Group AG and Daimler AG have agreed to perform software upgrades on about 5 million older diesel vehicles in Europe. The fix is supposedly going to reduce vehicle emissions with little to no impact on fuel economy or performance. The companies also plan to offer owners of older diesel vehicles large incentives to trade in for a newer model with cleaner emissions.
In total, the goal of the fixes is to reduce NOx emissions be 25 to 30 percent, according to German automaker lobbist VDA. The intent here is to buy goodwill with a public that has grown very skeptical of diesel engines since Volkswagen AG’s diesel emissions scandal in 2015.
The announcement is also intended to curb discussions in many European cities–including Mercedes-Benz’s hometown of Stuttgart–from banning diesel vehicles entirely.
Many attendees of the Berlin summit that led to this agreement left unsatisfied. Calls to ban diesel vehicles, or at least those with the highest emissions, continue even after this agreement.