BMW AG’s hometown of Munich is considering outlawing older diesel cars, the latest European city to crack down amid mounting evidence that the technology’s not that clean after all.
The driving ban was floated after a government study detected hazardous pollution levels in the Bavarian city’s air, especially of cancer-causing nitrogen oxide, said a spokeswoman for Mayor Dieter Reiter. Exemptions would apply for buses, taxis and diesels that meet Europe’s latest Euro 6 emissions standards.
Diesel’s image as a better-burning fuel has been tarnished by Volkswagen AG’s emissions-cheating scandal and a growing body of research showing that the engines spew harmful pollutants that can cause smog and cancer. Cities from London and Paris to Mercedes-Benz’s hometown of Stuttgart are making moves to restrict older diesels. Consumers worried about future bans are increasingly switching to gasoline-powered cars and light trucks.
In Europe, carmakers for years relied on fuel-efficient diesel to meet ever-tightening emissions standards and governments offered tax incentives to spur demand. The technology’s demise adds to manufacturers’ challenge of complying with environmental laws as they’re already struggling to convince drivers to buy electric cars instead of gas-guzzling SUVs.
Even though diesel’s popularity is waning, the engines still account for 50% of European new-car sales. Gasoline autos are less fuel-efficient and emit higher levels of carbon dioxide.
Munich’s proposal comes after a German appeals court ruled that the city acted unlawfully by allowing high levels of nitrogen oxide pollution.