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Umweltbundesamt: Software updates for diesel are not enough

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017 | Gadgets

According to the German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA), the software updates for older diesel cars promised by car manufacturers are hardly reducing the exhaust emissions in German cities. The expected reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions of up to six per cent "is not sufficient in most affected cities to meet the annual average of 40 micrograms per cubic meter, which is valid in the EU for the protection of human health," the agency said on Wednesday. With the software updates, the German manufacturers want to reduce the nitrogen oxide emissions of the five million retrofitted vehicles by an average of 25 to 30 percent.

According to the announcement, the Umweltbundesamt has calculated in scenarios how the software updates adopted at the Dieselforum as well as the exchange premiums will have an impact on two exemplary measuring points in Munich and Mainz. In the most probable scenarios the burden in Mainz decreased by 53 micrograms by two micrograms and in Munich by 80 micrograms by five micrograms. The burden would still be significantly above the permitted 40 micrograms.
Output level too high
The UBA President Maria Krautzberger believes that the air in the cities is hardly noticeable any more despite software updates, "simply by the much too low initial level of the vehicles". Euro 5 diesel without update today average 906 milligrams of nitrogen oxides per kilometer. That is five times more than the limit of 180 milligrams. Even current Euro 6 diesel without Real Driving Emissions (RDE) struck six times more nitrogen oxides from the exhaust than permissible.

Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks (SPD) criticized the manufacturers: "It can not be that some manufacturers themselves press against software updates, and the refusal of the car industry to deal with technical upgrades is not acceptable for me Only advise to develop solutions here quickly. "
Environmental premium has hardly any effect
For the environment, it would be best, said Hendricks, "if the premium motivates to buy small and economical cars". Car drivers should pay attention to the premium for really clean vehicles. These are, for example, electric vehicles, those with hybrid and gas propulsion, economical petrol engines or state-of-the-art diesel engines.
In this context, the Umweltbundesamt estimates the effect of the exchange premium as a whole lower than that of the software updates. The effect is expected to be between zero and two percent, depending on the assumptions. The effect would be much higher if the premium were used only for the purchase of very clean vehicles. This did not include the Euro 6 diesel, which did not yet meet the new road tests.
Critics call for hardware update
At VW, there is a premium of up to 12,000 euros if the owner scrapes his older diesel car and gets an E-Golf. 10,000 euros "environmental bonus" is available for the purchase of a new VW Touareg.
At the so-called diesel summit, car makers had committed themselves at the beginning of August 2017 to install a free software update on more than five million diesel cars in order to reduce the emissions of nitrogen oxides. Critics, however, did not go far enough. They called for additional modifications to the hardware, for example, to further improve the exhaust gas values ​​using the so-called Adblue technology. In addition, the local authorities do not rule out the possibility of driving bans in polluted city centers despite software updates.

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