When the French car manufacturer Peugeot presented exhaust gas emission figures for five diesel cars in March of this year, it was praised on an unknown point. "The measurements show excellent results for nitrogen oxides and the number of fine dust particles", the environmental organization Transport & Environment praised the cars of the emission standard Euro 6d-temp, including a 208 model and two 308er. The French nature conservation organization FNE confirmed the measurements.
From today's perspective, the Peugeot models, along with a few others, were only the way to go. Three years after the exhaust gas scandal became known to a larger public, new diesel vehicles are gradually coming onto the market, which actually emit less nitrogen oxide than permitted.
Powerful leap for the technology
With the latest technology, the diesel is clean – no less suggests the research. Driving restrictions should therefore hardly fear the owners of these cars. This is a big step for technology. In the years before, the industry had almost exclusively introduced diesel vehicles that exceeded laboratory limits many times. That caused the affair.
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"The manufacturers clearly understood," says Reinhard Kolke, head of the ADAC technology center. "The results are excellent: the tested diesel cars do not emit more nitrogen oxides than comparable petrol engines – in the lab and on the road."
The ADAC has 14 diesel with Euro 6d temp. "On average, these vehicles emit 76 percent less NOx than Euro 6b diesel and 85 percent less than Euro 5 diesel," according to the Traffic Club.
Polluting substances up to 99 percent
Random random samples from road measurements have shown that the reduction of pollutants in good models is 95 to 99 percent compared to Euro 5 diesel. The cleanest diesel ever measured was a BMW X1 sDrive18d with only eight milligrams of nitric oxide per kilometer. The limit is 168 grams.
Under public pressure, the car industry has not been able to prove what they have declared for years with regard to "motor protection". Extra and better catalysts, larger tanks for the AdBlue exhaust cleaner – no dirt left behind than allowed. And in real driving conditions on the road was an application scenario that left the manufacturers untreatable in the exhaust treatment for a long time.
The ADAC gives a list of slightly less than 400 diesel models with Euro 6d-temps. Since September 2017, the standard for new types is mandatory, from September 2019 onwards for all newly registered vehicles.
Return to mood for diesel is not much to feel
Despite all this, there is little sign of a great comeback mood for the diesel. In the last twelve months, manufacturers have delivered only 40,000 of the acclaimed Euro 6d temperature models to customers. Apparently, too few of the clean cars were actually available. Especially Volkswagen is late in the new standard. The air in the cities so far brings the new diesel so little.
"For two years the industry praises the new models as a problem solution," says Oliver Krischer, traffic expert for the Greens in the Bundestag. "But the cars are only in homeopathic doses on the street so far."
Manufacturers abuse environmental bonus
Instead, manufacturers abused the so-called environmental bonus last year to get old, dirty diesel from the farm. Drivers are therefore in brand new diesel cars of the Euro 6b or 6c standards, which are often as dirty as many older cars and are also threatened by driving bans in the medium term. Manufacturers had promised the federal government bonus at the diesel summit in the summer of 2017 and awarded it in the form of high discounts. Buyers need to use their help to exchange dirty cars for clean cars.
Also for the future it is by no means certain that the new technology will bind the diesel engine to glorious times. "The trust of the buyer will not be able to be repaired in the short term," says Elmar Kades, car expert at the international consultancy firm AlixPartners. Many drivers automatically think of the diesel driving ban. Legislators have so far not made it clear that at least the newest diesels have been spared in the long term. AlixPartners expects diesel in Europe to become a niche product in 2030.
"Reputation of technology is ruined"
"The manufacturers have sent clean diesel in the race too late," says Ferdinand Dudenhöffer from the University of Duisburg-Essen. "The reputation of technology has been ruined." Changing that costs a lot of money and can take years. Too long perhaps to help the diesel in the short term to get a grip on the CO2 emissions of their vehicles.
The market share of diesel in Europe is continuing to fall. In the first six months of the year, the auto-ignition share fell by 8.4 percentage points to 36.8 percent, as Dudenhöffer has determined. In Germany it even fell by 9.2 points to 32.1 percent.
In addition to an image, the diesel also has a potential cost problem. Automobile expert Stefan Bratzel estimates the extra financial costs for a really clean exhaust treatment at 500 to 1000 euros.
Advantage for electric cars
In small cars, the diesel igniter clearly loses its appeal to a petrol engine. For large sedans and SUVs, the cost problems of diesel manufacturers of electric cars are in the hands – especially if batteries are getting cheaper.
"From a technical point of view, the diesel is certainly safe," says Peter Mock, managing director of the international clean transport organization (ICCT), who unveiled the VW diesel scandal in the United States three years ago. "But for me it is questionable whether the effort is economically worthwhile."