German carmakers to update emission software in 5 million diesel cars

The Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA)—an interest group of the German automotive industry—held a National Diesel Forum in Berlin, where the automakers agreed to upgrade emission software in more than 5 million diesel cars in Germany to reduce NOx emissions.

In the aftermath of the Volkswagen emission scandal, a number of German cities have been considering bans on diesel vehicles. The VDA Forum was held to discuss strategies for the auto industry to avoid such bans, and to end the uncertainty among diesel drivers and in the automotive market.

The manufacturers offered to retrofit a majority of their in-use Euro 5 and Euro 6 diesel cars by software updates. In total, more than 5 million vehicles would be updated. This figure includes 2.5 million Volkswagen cars in Germany that have been already upgraded. The upgrades would produce an average reduction of NOx emissions of 25-30%, according to the VDA announcement.

The software update will be carried out by BMW, Daimler, Opel and Volkswagen, beginning immediately after the retrofit becomes approved by the Germany’s Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA). The retrofit will be conducted at no cost to the car owners, and will not affect engine performance, fuel consumption or service life. This has been made possible by the recent technical advances in exhaust gas aftertreatment and engine control, said the VDA.

In addition, the German manufacturers are to undertake manufacturer-specific sales measures to accelerate the fleet renewal of older diesel vehicles.

BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen are also prepared to contribute to the “Sustainable mobility for the city” fund that is planned by the German federal government, but no financial figures were provided.

The car makers confirmed that diesel is a part of a viable and sustainable drive mix, and praised the Federal Government for its expressed commitment to the principle of technological neutrality. The manufacturers noted that the problem of diesel PM emissions has been solved over ten years ago, with the introduction of diesel particulate filters, while the problem on high in-use NOx emissions will be solved by the real driving emissions (RDE) requirements that begin in September 2017.

In 2016, VDA members produced 15.8 million cars worldwide, 5.7 million of which were made in Germany.