German Chancellor Merkel Talks Internal Combustion Ban

Evan Williams
by Evan Williams

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the latest European leader to call for the death of the internal combustion engine.

In an interview with German magazine Superillu, Merkel suggested that a ban on the internal combustion engine was on the way, agreeing with the UK and France who have already called for stopping sales of new internal combustion cars by 2040. But Merkel isn’t setting out a timeline for the move.

“I cannot name a precise year yet, but the approach is correct,” she said.

Surprisingly, unlike many other countries, and even automakers, Merkel says that gas engined cars should go away first, in favour of newer, cleaner diesel models.

“We need modern diesel engines, which at the same time meet the nitric oxide standards,” she said.

Diesel cars still emit less CO2 than gas cars, but contribute more to particulate emissions and oxides of nitrogen.

Despite calling for the end of new diesel and gas-powered cars, Merkel does not support electric car quotas, as imposed by other European governments.

“I don’t think that the quota for E-cars – for this technology – has been well thought out,” she said at a rally of her political party, the Christian Democratic Union.

“What would we do if it is not adhered to?” she added.

SEE ALSO: The Internal Combustion Engine Isn’t Going Anywhere – Just Ask Mazda

Merkel called for the auto industry to innovate and move forward to make cleaner cars more appealing and to help speed up the transition more naturally.

“We need diesel cars, we need petrol cars, but we also need to make the transition faster to new technologies,” she said.

“We need to innovate quickly,” Merkel said, adding “where companies can’t manage it alone, the government must stand behind them and shove things along.”

Merkel also called out automakers for losing the trust of the public with emissions scandals.

“Large sections of the auto industry have gambled away unbelievable amounts of trust,” Merkel said, speaking at a rally.

“This is trust that only the auto industry can restore. And when I say ‘the industry’ that is the company leaders,” she added.

It’s far from the outright ban that other governments are calling for, but it may also be more realistic. Provide assistance for automakers to make better cars, rather than paying consumers to buy a technology they might not otherwise have chosen. But either way, it’s one more step toward the eventual disappearance of the internal combustion car as we know it.

A version of this story originally appeared on HybridCars

Evan Williams
Evan Williams

Evan moved from engineering to automotive journalism 10 years ago (it turns out cars are more interesting than fibreglass pipes), but has been following the auto industry for his entire life. Evan is an award-winning automotive writer and photographer and is the current President of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. You'll find him behind his keyboard, behind the wheel, or complaining that tiny sports cars are too small for his XXXL frame.

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