16 Nov 2018, 13:37
Kerstine Appunn Benjamin Wehrmann

VW unveils plan for Europe's biggest e-car plant / Autobahn diesel ban


Germany’s biggest carmaker VW has substantiated plans to transform its product line and drastically scale-up the share of electric cars by revealing plans for a major e-car factory in the eastern German city Zwickau. VW said in a press release it wants to make its Zwickau plant “Europe’s top-performing e-car factory” and assemble up to 330,000 vehicles per year there. The “CO2-neutral” production of the first electric model called ID is slated for late 2019 and will be “an example for sustainable mobility,” the company says. VW also plans to convert its plants in Emden and Hanover in northern Germany to e-car factories. “We are moving at full speed into the production of electric vehicles,” said VW board member Gunnar Kilian.

Read the press release in English here.

For background, read the factsheet  Dieselgate forces VW to embrace green mobility and the dossier BMW, Daimler, and VW vow to fight in green transport revolution.

Administrative Court Gelsenkirchen

A court in the western German city of Gelsenkirchen has ordered the first driving ban for older diesel cars on an Autobahn, the German highway famous for its long sections without speed limits. The court ruled that the city of Essen in federal state North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) has to set up perimeters within which diesel cars would be banned in the city centre, an area that also includes part of the major highway A40, which runs through the city. It also imposed bans for several roads in Gelsenkirchen. Bans for diesel cars up to the emissions standard Euro 5 will be introduced by July 2019, the court said in a press release. The court decided on a lawsuit filed by NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH) and said driving bans were the only way to ensure the city abides by air pollution limitation plans and protects the health of citizens.

Find the press release in German here.

See CLEW's Q&A on diesel driving bans for background.


The slow and cumbersome handling of Germany’s diesel emissions crisis is becoming “a threat to our democracy,” Green Party co-head Annalena Baerbock told the newspaper WirtschaftsWoche. She said the federal transport ministry has not had the “courage” to get tough on carmakers that sold millions of diesel-powered cars that had been manipulated to appear less polluting than they actually were. “The carmakers thumb their nose at the government,” Baerbock said, adding that their action caused a chain reaction that is also damaging other industry suppliers, she said.

Read the article in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet “Dieselgate” – a timeline of Germany’s car emissions fraud scandal for background.

Frankfurter Rundschau

A delegation of officials from Germany’s financial capital Frankfurt has visited Shanghai to learn how the Chinese metropolis with 24 million inhabitants and 6 million daily commuters manages its immense transport volumes, Sandra Busch writes in the Frankfurter Rundschau. “We want to learn from you,” Frankfurt’s mayor, Peter Feldmann, told the Shanghai Transport Commission, which plans to bring the share of public transportation, bicycles and electric vehicles to 85 percent of all trips taken in the city by 2023 to reduce air pollution and avoid further congestion of Shanghai’s roads. Frankfurt, on the other hand, has recently been ordered by a court to introduce driving bans for older diesel cars in 2019 to abide by air pollution limit values.

Read the article in German here.

Clean Energy Wire

As global CO2 emissions are predicted to reach a historic high in 2018, “there is a growing and worrying disconnect between climate targets and what is happening in the real energy markets,” said Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency. Presenting the IEA's 2018 World Energy Outlook in Berlin, he added that reducing global coal power generation was among the most important, but also the most difficult, measure as a large fleet of new or planned plants were located in emerging economies in South East Asia. The only solution was therefore to intervene in the existing coal plant fleet, and support carbon capture storage and utilisation (CCUS), efficient operations and technology innovation. Germany’s plans for a coal exit were important to the global discussion about fossil fuel phase-outs because the country was a role model, Birol said. Its Energiewende (energy transition) provided a substantial amount of inspiration to many countries around the world.

Find a summary and slides on the World Energy Outlook 2018 here.


The German railway company Deutsche Bahn (DB) has unveiled plans to save up to twelve million litres of diesel fuel per year by modernising its locomotives with digital technology, Handelsblatt reports. DB says it wants to save up to 30,000 tonnes of CO2 per year by retrofitting trains on its regional routes, a reduction of seven percent. The digital support technology tells the train driver when to best accelerate and brake and to use topographic features most efficiently, the article says.

Find the article in German here.

See the CLEW factsheet Rail cargo emissions in Germany for more information.

Environmental NGO Greenpeace is calling on anti-coal protesters to gather in 54 German cities on 17 November to demand a resolute phase-out of coal-fired power production in the country. “End the dirty age of coal,” will be the protests’ central message, says Greenpeace climate expert Bastian Neuwirth in a press release. “The German government has bid farewell to climate protection” and officially given up on its 2020 emissions reduction target, Neuwirth says, arguing that quick shutdown or curbing of coal plants would allow Germany to still reach it. “It is irresponsible to hesitate for even just another second to counter the climate crisis,” he says.

Find the press release in German here.

See the CLEW article German commission draft suggests coal exit with compensation for more information.


A court in Germany has stopped plans of energy company RWE to build the country’s “most state-of-the-art” lignite power plant in Niederaußem in federal state North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the newspaper WirtschaftsWoche reports. The court said citizens “have not been properly informed” about the environmental consequences of the plant that had received its construction license in 2014. “Regardless of today’s ruling the prospects for implementation of the project meanwhile have become very modest, both from an economic and from a political perspective,” RWE said.

Read the article in German here.


Energy and climate policy must be key policy areas for Germany’s government in 2019 in order to significantly reduce carbon emissions and make a substantial contribution to limiting climate change, Social Democratic (SPD) energy and climate politician Matthias Miersch writes in a guest article for the Tagesspiegel. “We have to put energy and climate policy centre stage,” Miersch says. Additional auctions for renewable energy installations, a compromise on Germany’s coal exit and a Climate Protection Law are some of the tasks that must be solved in the coming year, he says. And he says his party should work towards abolishing the current cap on the volume of supported solar power and debate how a CO2 pricing scheme could be used to reform the system of taxes and levies in a climate-friendly way.

Read the article in the Tagesspiegel in German here.

See the CLEW articles German parties fiercely debate IPCC’s 1.5° report in parliament, as well as the CLEW factsheets Germany’s Climate Action Plan 2050 and From ideas to laws – how Energiewende policy is shaped for background.

All texts created by the Clean Energy Wire are available under a “Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0)” . They can be copied, shared and made publicly accessible by users so long as they give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
« previous news next news »


Researching a story? Drop CLEW a line or give us a call for background material and contacts.

+49 30 62858 497

Journalism for the energy transition

Get our Newsletter
Join our Network
Find an interviewee