28 Apr 2020, 12:31
Julian Wettengel

VW CEO calls for economic stimulus, includes combustion engine cars

ARD / Clean Energy Wire

In an interview with public broadcaster ARD, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess has called for an economic stimulus package for the car industry that would include support for combustion engine cars. Asked whether the current coronavirus crisis presented an opportunity to only support climate-friendly alternatives, Diess said: “We have strong programmes especially for electric cars, but in aggregate the fleet becomes so much better and we can massively accelerate environment protection by selling the cars we have in our portfolio in 2020.” Diess argued that CO₂ emissions of cars sold this year would be an average of 100 grammes per kilometre (g/km), while 10 years ago it was 150 g/km. After the initial stabilisation of the economy “it is now about stimulating it anew”, the CEO said, noting that “likely the best option to do so is the car”, as a whole supply chain is connected to the sales.
An alliance of associations that includes bicycle club ADFC, the pro rail Allianz pro Schiene and the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv), has called instead for a “mobility premium, which leaves it to the consumers to decide between a new car and the investment into a climate-friendly means of transport”. This could include public transport tickets or e-bikes. “With a mobility premium, the German government ensures that the fight against the economic consequences of the coronavirus crisis does not exacerbate the climate crisis,” said Dirk Flege, managing director of Allianz pro Schiene.

The German car industry has called for a buyer's premium to boost car demand, but left it a moot point whether it should be limited to low-emission propulsion systems. Economy minister Peter Altmaier has said the government should “encourage the purchase of cars with low CO₂ emissions”. VW COO Ralf Brandstätter has also said a premium could be aligned with the CO₂ emissions of the individual model, adding that the premium should include modern combustion engines.

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