MOTORING NEWS - Things are not looking good for what is arguably the best automotive industry in the world. Regulatory reckoning seems to have caught up with the German car manufacturers with the emissions scandal costing more and more in terms of money in fines, personal and organisational reputation and lately also market share.
For months now the German auto industry has been fearing a new and stricter set of emissions standards known as Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP). These regulations are supposed to be more realistic. Volkswagen stated that individual models, engine by engine and trim by trim, would differ. To be more accurate and realistic, these now have to get individually tested. While more realistic, this process would also take significantly more time.
This is what Dieselgate was about - cars would technically pass emissions tests while being tested, but numbers wouldn't match in the real world.
German car makers have been most concerned about WLTP, with some cars getting sold in haste and others delayed because of delays in the new testing process. The September slump came after a surge in sales during August, as manufacturers scrambled to get older models registered and onto the road before the new testing regime came into force.
September was the first month when all vehicles had to pass WLTP and new car registrations are down by nearly a third, according to a report by Reuters. New car registrations in Germany fell 30% in September year-on-year, the news agency said, as manufacturers struggled to adjust to the new WLTP emissions testing regime. New registrations were down 30,5% year-on-year last month, at 200 134 units, the KBA transport authority confirms.
Volkswagen's market share for September fell to just 10,1% compared with 19,1% for the year to date.
WLTP is meant to give a more accurate indication of cars' performance in the real world, as opposed to the previous, now outdated system, New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).
Renault boss Carlos Ghosn made it clear at the recent Paris Motor Show that consumers never really cared about diesel versus gasoline. He stated it was the regulators who have made it their mission to destroy diesel. Ghosn said that consumers buy cars based on price, running cost and resale value and "do not care" what engine their vehicles have.
Renault has also confirmed its plans to further convert its range to electric power trains in its 2020 product refresh cycle, offering hybrid on Clio and plug-in hybrid on Mégane and Captur.
There has been a lot of talk about cities banning diesel cars, particularly in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel has worked out a deal to enable owners of "dirty diesel cars" to get them cleaned up. After marathon talks Merkel and leaders of her coalition partners announced they had agreed on a way to cut pollution while avoiding unpopular driving bans.
Apparently German car manufacturers had agreed to offer an exchange programme with attractive trade-in incentives or discounts for owners of diesel vehicles of the Euro 4 and Euro 5 emissions standard.
The German government has repeatedly said that the car companies started this mess and they are the ones who should pay for it. The cost of each retrofit fix and how much each company will be able to cover, makes it clear that the government will have to subsidise this to some degree.
Sources: Jalopnik, Wikipedia, https://www.kba.de/EN/Statistik_en
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