March 29, 2018 / 1:07 AM / in a year

German finance minister aims to avoid bans on diesel cars

German Finance Minister and Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz attends a news conference following his meeting with French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire in Paris, France March 16, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany must do all it can to avert driving bans for diesel cars, the country’s new finance minister said in an interview published on Thursday, urging cities and local communities to boost investments in charging stations for electric cars.

In an interview with the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper chain, Olaf Scholz expressed scepticism that changes in taxation - for instance, scrapping tax breaks for diesel as a fuel - would speed moves by the car industry to introduce cleaner cars.

He also rejected calls for the government to offer financial incentives to get more clean-burning diesel cars on the road and bring down emissions in heavily polluted cities.

“It is the task of industry to develop vehicles that meet existing and future rules for clean air,” Scholz told the newspaper group, adding: “We must talk seriously about how we can get more electric cars or expand public transportation.”

Scholz, who owns a diesel car himself, said he shared other drivers’ concerns about limited access to certain areas in the future, if driving bans were imposed. “We must do all we can to prevent driving bans for diesel vehicles,” he said.

Instead, he said cities and local communities seeking to reduce overall emissions should build more charging stations to promote use of electric cars and buses, and the car industry should accelerate its work on clean car technologies.

“Industry must deliver now. It would be good if such a technological advance came from Germany.”

Scholz, a Social Democrat, joined conservative Transportation Minister Andreas Scheuer and Chancellor Angela Merkel in speaking out against comprehensive diesel driving bans.

Merkel last week told lawmakers she favored tailored solutions to bring down car emissions in heavily polluted cities.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Mark Potter

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