In a letter to the car makers, Khan has asked why Germany’s top three car brands have negated to contribute to emissions-fighting practices here, despite having invested £223 million to the German government’s Sustainable Mobility Fund for Cities.
“[These car manufacturers] admit they’ve got to cut emissions from their vehicles, but they confine their funding to Germany alone,” said Khan. “This is ridiculous, as their vehicles are driven all over Europe, including on London’s roads. They must apply the same approach across all the markets that they trade in.
“In July, the UK managing director of VW sat in my office and said they couldn’t contribute anything to fund cleaning up London’s air, but their German colleagues are providing money. Londoners will find that unacceptable.”
Khan added that the US has also received heavy investment thanks to Volkswagen's Dieselgate scandal, which has seen the group hand over £24 billion in fines and compensation.
The UK Government has, by contrast, received just £1m of funding from car makers. Khan (pictured below with Jenson Button) recently triggered a high pollution alert for London’s air, signalling the worsening problem of air quality in the capital.
“I am taking bold action to clean up London’s toxic air, but I can’t do it alone,” he said. “The Government must act urgently to secure a meaningful amount of funding from [car] manufacturers, which could help people to scrap the most polluting diesel vehicles and take these off our streets.”
However, the UK's Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has asked Khan to consider the progress made in recent years in cutting vehicle emissions. SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said: “The vehicles available today are the cleanest in history and the EU’s new and challenging testing regime ensures manufacturers are meeting the world’s toughest emissions standards.
"We should not divert investment away from vital research and development of new technology and it is unfair to penalise manufacturers who have produced vehicles that have consistently met the strictest emission standards. We continue to work with government to encourage the uptake of the latest, low emission vehicles through a positive approach which gives consumers incentives to purchase these cars.”
London will introduce its toxicity charge, nicknamed the T-charge, on 23 October, as the toughest emission standard of any city in the world. It will charge drivers £10 to get into the city if they are in vehicles that do not meet at least Euro 4 standards.
Government figures show road transport is responsible for 90% of nitrogen oxide emissions in London.