Germany believes European Commission will propose electric car quotas

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany believes the European Commission will propose quotas for electric cars in its next review of measures to cut emissions, a spokesman for the German environment ministry said on Friday.

A sign is pictured on an electric car charging station at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland June 2, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The Commission said on Monday it had no plans to introduce quotas for electric cars for an automobile sector seeking to recover from the Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE diesel scandal.

A spokeswoman for the German environment ministry, which is run by the Social Democrats (SPD) - the junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition - said without quotas for electric cars the European Union could miss its carbon dioxide emissions targets.

The SPD, Merkel’s main rival in September’s election, wants a European-wide quota to accelerate the shift towards electric cars, the SPD’s general secretary said on Friday.

“There must be ambitious targets, otherwise we won’t make any headway,” Hubertus Heil told Reuters.

He added that he was not, however, in favor of setting a specific date to take diesel motors out of service.

The SPD, which is lagging far behind Merkel’s conservatives in opinion polls, is in favor of tax incentives to accelerate the switch to electric cars.

A plan laid out by SPD leader Martin Schulz said an obligatory minimum number of electric cars for Germany and Europe would give car markers incentives to develop new technologies. He did not suggest specific numbers.

Merkel has repeatedly warned against “demolishing” diesel engines.

The Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper cited several members of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) as criticizing the SPD’s suggestions of a quota.

“Set quotas remind me of a planned economy and that has never been successful,” Norbert Barthle, deputy transport minister and CDU member, was quoted as saying.

Britain said last month it would ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040 in an attempt to reduce air pollution. The global auto industry debate could one day herald the end of more than a century of reliance on the combustion engine.

Reporting by Tom Koerkemeier and Holger Hansen; Writing by Joseph Nasr and Michelle Martin; Editing by Paul Carrel and Alister Doyle