Back in early August this year, Germany's largest automakers agreed to reduce the NOx emissions of their diesel vehicles by up to 25 percent with software updates, following a meeting with the country's government representatives. But the local auto industry might be facing another tough challenge soon, as the German Transport Ministry has reportedly said that diesel vehicles don't produce less carbon dioxide than gasoline cars and are not better for the environment.
The Funke group of newspapers quotes an answer given by the Transport Ministry to an enquiry from the opposition Greens, which claims diesel cars registered in 2016 emitted 128 grams of CO2 per kilometer on average, while gas vehicles emitted 129 gr/CO2. According to the information, the emissions difference has been similar in the last ten years.
"It's a myth that diesel helps protect the climate," Stephan Kuehn, transport expert for the Greens in Germany's lower house of parliament, commented to the Funke newspapers.
However, to get the whole picture, it's very important to note that one of the main reasons for the almost identical carbon dioxide numbers between diesels and gas cars is just because diesel models in the country are usually larger, more powerful, and heavier.
"Diesel motors squander the theoretical advantages they could bring for the environment by often being built into heavy, high-powered cars," Kuehn also commented.
During the first half of the year, diesel sales in Germany accounted for 41.3 percent of the total new car sales in the country. While this is still a very high number compared to other markets, it represents a decline compared to last year, when this number was 46.9.
Many specialists believe that, if this trend continues in the next few months, Germany could post first rise in its overall CO2 levels from its new-car fleet since 1990.