Currently reading: Mayor of London calls for German car makers to fund clean air initiatives
Sadiq Khan has written to Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes-Benz requesting that they match German and US funds in Britain
Sam Sheehan
3 mins read
6 October 2017

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has accused Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Volkswagen of operating with “double standards” because of their lack of investment in clean air initiatives in Britain.

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.”


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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.

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Variable pay-per-mile charge for London under consideration​

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6 October 2017

The SMMT CEO says "it is unfair to penalise manufacturers who have produced vehicles that have consistently met the strictest emission standards".  According to ADAC ecotests for the last year, only about 17% of tested "Euro6-compliant" cars actually achieved the 2014 Euro6 emissions limits.  Diesel particulate emissions are now low thanks to DPFs, but most new diesels sold still emit excessive NOx in realistic driving scenarios.  Petrol direct-injection cars often emit too much CO and too many particles (including even the hybrid Ioniq and Niro).  Toyota hybrids have consistently had emissions much better than the Euro6 limits.  Dirty new diesels include VW Tiguan 2.0 TDI (1.8x the NOx limit), BMW 320d GT (2x), Mercedes CLA 200d (4.5x), Ford Focus 2.0 TDCi (4.5x), Hyundai i20 1.1 CRDi (8x), Peugeot 5008 BlueHDi150 (8.75x), Renault GrandScenic ENERGY dCi 160 (11x).  Dirty petrol direct injection cars include SEAT Leon 1.4 TSI (4.5x the CO limit, 3x the particle count limit), VW Tiguan 1.4 TSI (7.6x CO, 7.6x the particles), Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT (7.3 x CO), Smart fortwo cabrio 0.9 turbo (3.6x CO, 138x the particles).  Khan is correct in saying that manufacturers have caused dirty London air and should help do something about it.

6 October 2017
I would imagine that, with all due respect to Mr Khan, whose action in this regard seems laudable, that allocating the blame for the widescale (and often inappropriate) adoption of those early (pre Eu4) cars by city dwelling or city commuting consumers, will be a hard one to pin on German manufacturers alone.

With regards to the benefits and suitability of diesel cars: Even if they are used for inappropriate short journeys in cities, modern diesel cars that meet Eu6 (in the real world) would be massively better than the older Eu1+ vehicles but unfortunately two things must be acknowledged:

1)The British public were unwittingly misled both by the car companies and the government of the day back in 2001, when Labour's Gordon Brown incentivised diesel as a means of meeting the CO2 emission targets of the 1997 Kyoto Agreement.
2) The widespread adoption of those vehicles by the public and the massive number of even pre Eu4 vehicles on the road, cannot simply be dealt with by scrappage schemes or obtaining money from mfrs that flows in at a government level.

To be politically unbiased about the whole affair, Cons George Osbourne's ill considered VED changes have done nothing to encourage those people that can contemplate a change of vehicle, to purchase a modern diesel or swap into a Petrol model.

Most owners of older diesels simply cannot afford to either sell their vehicles (now devalued by the whole Dieselgate debacle) or find the cash to fund a new Petrol or Eu6 diesel model - instead it seems they will personally be unfairly costed off the road by both city charges, the feasability of undertaking ongoing repairs to a vehicle with limited resale value and the uncertainty of further knee-jerk reactions that might be introduced by whatever government.

There are a lot of manufacturers who have been implicated in cheating emissions testing and whilst it does seem unfair that German manufacturers are providing financial incentives to their own populace and bearing the burden of fines wherever in the world Governments bother to prove that they cheated on testing (something our own government should be pursuing without reference to London alone), it seems a little naive to believe that German mfrs won't favour their own market or those that take legally enforceable punitive action against them and will instead simply open their purse and do the right thing.

Perhaps, with info from the DVLA, the total cost to the UK (adjusted for their impact on incomes from new vehicle VAT and ongoing VED), to assist in helping owners to upgrade to a modern equivalent Petrol of Eu6 diesel should have been established first, before knocking on the door of German manufacturers alone and as a precursor to considering the
viability of legal action against them and other companies?

6 October 2017

“It is unfair to penalise manufacturers who have produced vehicles that have consistently met the strictest emission standards.”


Er, sorry Mike, but VW cheated emissions tests, in case you’d forgotten. Frankly they only have themselves to blame for their current woes, including the wrath of Europe’s biggest city.

6 October 2017

surely the idea that the german manufacturers would fund this is complete nonsense, and also beggars the question "how much money do you think they have?" ?google search for "how many cars are in london" leads you to the dft website. comparing 2000 with 2016 (the oldest and neweat years they show stats for), there are 700 less motorcycles, 27000 less cars, 2000 less light goods vehicles, 1000 less heavy goods vehicles, 800 more busses/coaches, 6500 more bicycles (which they call pedal cycles). "all motor vehicles" is 30000 less, and doesn't unclude bicycles. given that between 2000 and now, on average, the emissions of these vehicles should be better, and that there's 30% less of them... Mr Kahn, are you barking up the right tree?

7 October 2017

Bandwagon. Jumped.

advert in the evening standard:

Mayor of London seeks free cash from like minded German car manufacturer. Good CO2, has own transport system. Congestion charge considered. 


8 October 2017
Is that a spelling/syntax errorin the second paragraph?

"Khan has asked why Germany’s top three car brands have negated to contribute to emissions-fighting"

Shouldn't it read
"Khan has asked why Germany’s top three car brands have neglected to contribute to emissions-fighting"
with 'neglected' replacing 'negated'?

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