BMW’s home town Munich is looking at banning diesel vehicles from its streets because of levels of nitrogen oxide emissions described by the mayor as “shocking.”
“As much as I would welcome avoiding such bans, I think it is just as unlikely that we can continue to do without bans in the future,” Mayor Dieter Reiter told the city’s main newspaper.
Asked about the latest NOx readings, which the paper said violated European air quality standards, the mayor said: “The results are shocking, nobody expected this.”
Between 133,000 and 170,000 vehicles could be affected by a ban in Munich, depending on how strict it will be, the paper said. Cars meeting the latest Euro 6 emission rules would be exempted, it added.
NOx is a diesel pollutant linked to respiratory illnesses. The spike in pollution in Munich comes as a side effect to growing population density. From 2012 to 2017, the number of registered cars has risen from 660,000 to 720,000 – almost 300,000 of which are diesels.
The scandal over rigged diesel emissions tests at German carmaker Volkswagen has thrown the engine technology into doubt and has highlighted carmakers’ struggles to comply with ever stricter rules capping nitrogen oxides emissions.
Audi earlier this month was ordered by the German government to recall 24,000 cars fitted with V8 and V6 diesel engines suspected of being equipped with emissions cheating devices.
About half the new cars sold in Germany ran on diesel engines before the VW scandal broke, though diesel market share has since declined.
A ban on diesels that don’t meet Euro 6 rules could make relations between the city of Munich and BMW awkward. Diesel cars accounted for 71 per cent of BMW’s total sales in Europe in the first four months of this year, down 4.2 per cent from a year earlier.
A spokesman for BMW said encouraging the adoption of electric vehicles was a better way to improve air quality than imposing a ban on diesel cars.
Aside from Munich, the city of Stuttgart, home to Mercedes-Benz and VW subsidiary Porsche, is already preparing to ban from next year diesels that do not meet the latest emissions standards. London and Paris are making moves to do the same.