Highest court declares that older, more polluting cars can be stopped from entering city centres
Sam Sheehan
27 February 2018

City councils in Germany have been granted the right to legally ban diesel vehicles from their centres, following a new ruling by the country’s Federal Administrative Court.

Stuttgart and Düsseldorf were given permission by the country’s highest court to prevent older, higher-polluting models from driving into certain areas, opening the door for other cities to take action of their own to cut emissions.

Like the UK, Germany is facing a growing urban nitrogen oxide pollution problem that has been linked to the dominance of diesel cars on its roads. Last year, around 70 of the country’s cities exceed EU limits for NOx.

Volkswagen boss: German city diesel ban is 'scary and unnecessary'

The German Government opposes the banning of vehicles from city centres because of the impact it can have on economic productivity and lower-income drivers, who are more likely to use older vehicles.

Germany’s tough stance against diesel comes in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal, which came to light in 2015 when Volkswagen was found to be using emissions test cheat software. It has been one of Europe’s most outspoken countries on the subject. 

Several UK councils have also pushed for a more heavy-handed approach to emissions regulation. Oxford has proposed a combustion engine ban from its centre from 2020, while London (pictured above) recently introduced a T-Charge for the most toxic of vehicles.

This anti-diesel stance has caused sales of oil-burners to tumble, plummeting by 25% in the UK in January compared with the same month last year.

Manufacturers have begun withdrawing diesel models from their line-ups as demand shrinks, with Porsche removing its last two current diesel cars from sale earlier this year.

Although environmental activists have celebrated this change, new Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders figures show that CO2 figures are now on the up as people switch from diesel to petrol cars.

The average new car last year emitted 121g/km of CO2, up from 120.1g/km in 2016, meaning the impact the average car tailpipe has on global warming has grown for the first time in two decades.

More content:

The price we'll pay for improve emissions testing

BMW M3 F80 axed due to emissions test

Our Verdict

BMW 3 Series

The BMW 3 Series' outstanding performance and handling makes it a complete and consummate all-rounder but then the Jaguar XE and Alfa Romeo Guilia arrived

Join the debate


27 February 2018

...and humans in Germany.


You couldn't make it up.

Steam cars are due a revival.

27 February 2018
A great decision which will hopefully encourage our government to do something too.

27 February 2018

It's not so simple it seems. There is apparently a word in there suggesting it has to be commensurate/proportional. It was on the radio here of course. German law offices are probably all popping champagne corks at the thought of business to come. 

27 February 2018

Ok the CO2 is up, but you don't get lung fibrosis and carcinoma from CO2 like you can from NO2! IMHO the commercials including buses are far more to blame than cars.



28 February 2018
madmac wrote:

Ok the CO2 is up, but you don't get lung fibrosis and carcinoma from CO2 like you can from NO2! IMHO the commercials including buses are far more to blame than cars.

Nor can you get skin cancer from NO2 like you can from the Co2 which is a greenhouse gas that attacks the ozone layer, nor will you be able to drive your EV anywhere as the roads will be flooded due to rising sea levels.

No one problem is better than the other.


27 February 2018

The SMMT figures are bogus and really tell us little about the real world. With a new testing regime now agreed, Autocar really should stop replicating their PR without challenge or context.

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Ford Mustang
    First Drive
    24 March 2018
    Sixth-generation Mustang gets a leaner face, revised suspension, improved safety equipment and a more power V8. We see how it fares on southern French roads
  • First Drive
    23 March 2018
    Fully-loaded, big-hitting diesel CLS shows the potential perils of ticking too many options boxes on your order form. A good car with a bad suspension combination.
  • BMW M5
    First Drive
    22 March 2018
    Super saloon deploys four-wheel drive to improve every facet of its driving experience. Faster and more capable than any, and more exciting than most, of its celebrated predecessors
  • Range Rover Sport SVR
    First Drive
    22 March 2018
    More power and an intoxicating soundtrack have breathed new life into our love affair with the biggest, baddest Range Rover Sport variant
  • First Drive
    21 March 2018
    The new Vantage has been developed as a Porsche 911 beater, and our first taste on UK roads suggests it can live up to that bold claim