Merkel's Record Mixed As She Takes Wheel At Last IAA Show
Faizan Hashmi 11 days ago Tue 07th September 2021 | 10:50 AM
Berlin, Sept 7 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 7th Sep, 2021 ) :No German leader's diary would be complete without a visit to the venerable IAA motor show, which welcomes Angela Merkel on Tuesday for the last time in her chancellorship.
Merkel, who is quitting politics after an election on September 26, has been a regular at the show over her 16 years in power -- even earning the sobriquet the "car chancellor" for her efforts to shield German carmakers from tougher EU pollution rules.
The German leader will give a speech when the fair opens to trade visitors on Tuesday in Munich, a new location as part of efforts to rebrand itself as a "mobility fair" with a spotlight on electric cars.
But there is little chance of the chancellor herself arriving in an electric vehicle, since they make up only 2.4 percent of the government's 25,000-strong fleet, according to official figures from January.
The figure rises to 5.6 percent when taking into account hybrids and cars that run on clean fuels.
Even so, it is a stark reflection of the blind spots in state support for the German automotive industry, which has received billions of Euros in funding in recent years but without any meaningful focus on clean mobility.
- 'Depressing and incomprehensible' - The 2015 "dieselgate" scandal spelled the beginning of the end for diesel. That was when Germany's biggest carmaker Volkswagen admitted to fitting 11 million vehicles with illegal emissions-cheating devices.
Until then, Diesel was favoured by German and other governments as an efficient and more environmentally friendly alternative to gasoline.
Merkel expressed anger at the scandal.
But in Brussels, her government sought to slow the shift to e-mobility by watering down toughened emissions regulations that German carmakers would struggle to comply with, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung said.
On the eve of Merkel's visit, the boss of Volkswagen even blamed her government for slowing down the electric revolution by incentivising diesel engines even after his company was seeking to make the switch following the emissions scandal.
"A car company cannot do this transition (alone) because you need the right environment," Volkswagen chief executive Herbert Diess told AFP in an interview. "If you keep diesel cheap... nobody will buy an electric car, it's impossible," he said.
"The state fuelled a diesel boom through tax breaks, and now diesel passenger cars are practically unsellable," he told AFP.
"Scrappage schemes, incentives to buy electric cars, subsidies for battery production, aid for recycling, short-time working allowances -- this has been the strategy for 16 years. This alleviates short-term economic problems, but does not build a new structure," Dudenhoeffer said.
"Valuable years have been lost in the battle to phase out the combustion engine," it said.
- Existential crisis - With the momentum for greener mobility growing, and with tougher anti-pollution guidelines in place, Germany's car manufacturers are now no longer able to put off the inevitable.