Wissmann: Manufacturers and suppliers contribute significantly to the solution
The German automotive industry has launched another initiative for air pollution control in towns and cities. The aim is to work with the affected municipalities to examine which measures can be commenced, accelerated or enhanced, and what the automotive industry can contribute. The scheme is intended to supplement the packages of measures already implemented by German towns and cities. To this end, discussions have been held since the end of last year with towns and cities all over Germany. The main focus is on cities with NO2 values of over 50 µg/m3, i.e. a long way above the permitted annual mean of 40 µg/m3.
Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), commented: “This commitment shows that OEMs and suppliers are facing up to their responsibility. The Platform for Urban Mobility initiated by the VDA in 2016 has already started projects in several towns and cities. Furthermore, the German manufacturers’ provision of software updates, trade-in bonuses for older diesel vehicles, and their participation in the German Government’s mobility fund all make a key contribution to resolving the problem of air quality.”
One element in this initiative is the support for simulating and evaluating additional air pollution control measures that are being prepared in places like Hannover, Heilbronn, Kiel and Ludwigsburg. This can assist in assessing individual measures as part of the current elaboration of “Green City” plans by urban administrations. Other topics underpinning the initiative are electric mobility, optimization of traffic management, connectivity and digitization.
For example, in cooperation with Berlin and Hamburg the initiative is examining how the electrification of vehicle fleets can be accelerated. Another aspect is projects to improve the flow of traffic. For instance traffic can flow more smoothly if drivers receive information about the “time to green” and can adjust their speed accordingly. Digitization projects are being discussed with cities including Düsseldorf, Dortmund, Hamburg, Reutlingen and Stuttgart.
Especially at locations where the automotive industry is present, it is important to improve employee mobility and reduce the traffic volume. For example in the Stuttgart area, workers at companies in the automotive industry can use their employee ID to travel on public transport on days with a “particulate alarm.” Additional action could include using apps to facilitate ride shares, more use of flexible working models (such as working from home) and offering job tickets.
This ongoing initiative from the German automotive industry supplements the measures agreed at the National Diesel Forum last year, such as software updates, trade-in bonuses and co-financing for the fund “Sustainable mobility for the city” from BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen. Projects are also being developed in several towns and cities through the Platform for Urban Mobility initiated by the VDA, which aim to increase transport efficiency and thus to reduce emissions.
Overall, the urban air quality in Germany is improving all the time. For example, nitrogen oxide emissions from road traffic in Germany have come down by 70 percent since 1990, despite the rising volume of traffic.
And just recently there has also been clear progress. Last year the nitrogen oxide emissions evidently fell in our two most severely affected cities – Stuttgart and Munich. Exceedances of the annual limit values were smaller than in the previous year, and for the first time there were no exceedances at all of the hourly limit values. The same is also true of the generally much better air in Berlin.