We all are looking at the soon-approaching German election. It has attracted the attention of many of us, especially from the western world. Some of us are watching with excitement and few with apprehension. The effects are visible in many sectors.
Take Cars for example. Auto lovers from everywhere have been flocking to Munich this week to admire the new cars at the IAA 2021 Car Exhibition. This event was inaugurated by Chancellor Merkel. She of course, as expected came with a bold statement that Cars are not only part of the Climate Problem but can even become a part of the solution. My question is, should one believe her?
Of course, everyone can see that the German Auto industry is in rapid transition. Since the end of 2015, they all are converting to electric cars, which in my opinion has been mainly due to the infamous diesel gate scandal.
A short historical reminder for many of us. Diesel gate is the name given to the scandal, when in September 2015 US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) issued a violation of the ‘Clean Air Act’ to the German Car Producer Volkswagen. EPA had discovered that VW had intentionally programmed their TDI Diesel engines to reduce their NOx emission artificially during laboratory testing such that it met the US standards, while in fact, they emitted 40 times more while driving in the real world. Also not forgetting that oddly EU authorities who have stricter testing regulations had failed to notice or register this issue.
Anyway, another issue was that under the protection of the same Merkel (under whose regime the Diesel gate happened), the CEOs of the German Auto Industry kept blocking the electrification of Automobiles. I remember that some years ago even a much smaller country like the Netherlands had nearly as many car charging stations as the whole of Germany, which is a much larger country. And the mockery Toyota faced by other Car Brands when it came out with its Hybrid Cars. It was repeatedly told that hybrid technology is expensive, complicated, etc. while the diesel motor is efficienter, cheaper, and getting better with the passing years. Fortunately for the environment, this illusion or rather fairytale was broken by the diesel gate.
In conclusion, it is true as many Climate Activists are correct in thinking that these actions of the German Car industry have been too slow. But on other hand, the predictions for the upcoming elections are that the influence of Merkel’s Party will be significantly reduced and that of the Green Parties increased. In my opinion, this will speed up the transformation of the German Car Industry, to a non-fossil fuel-based, like electric or hydrogen technologies. Mainly for two reasons, the impending implementation of tougher regulations and the decrease of Government support.