German car manufacturers could face fines over emissions scandal

The European Commission has charged several German car manufacturers of attempting to block the use of clean emissions technology.

The EU has accused the top German manufacturers, which includes Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Daimler, and BMW, of purposely trying to delay or limit the introduction of selective catalytic reduction systems (SCRs) and Otto particle filters.

Otto particle filters limit emissions from petrol cars. The SCR systems are used to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions from diesel vehicles.

According to the EU’s environmental agencies, when used correctly, these two technologies could save thousands of lives a year.

Reducing emissions is a key part of the EU’s climate change targets, as set out in the Paris Agreement. The target is to reduce emissions by 40% by 2030, in order to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

Volkswagen, BMW, and Daimler have been given just under three months to respond with their explanations. Otherwise, they could face large fines, which could end up costing them billions of euros.

The EU’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, said: “Daimler, VW and BMW may have broken EU competition rules. As a result, European consumers may have been denied the opportunity to buy cars with the best available technology.”

The companies have denied the allegations and said that they are currently co-operating with the EU’s investigations.

However, if there are fines, they could be as high as 10% of the company’s global turnover.

The German car industry has previously lobbied against the proposals to introduce radical changes in the way cars are manufactured in the EU.

In 2017, proposals were made which included very ambitious goals to reduce emissions by rolling out green technology.

However, this was met with opposition from the head of VDA, a German automotive lobbying group, Matthias Wissmann, spoke with Martin Selmayr, chief of staff to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

Ugo Taddei, a lawyer for ClientEarth said “National authorities keep folding under the pressure of the auto lobby and dragging their feet rather than ordering corrective action. These latest revelations tell us that the technology has been there for many years to reduce harmful emissions from vehicles, but the industry has been resistant to change. And this is still clearly going on.”

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