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German state premier on defensive over VW ties

Monday, August 07, 2017 - 01:57

Dieselgate hits the German headlines again as the premier of the German state of Lower Saxony - which owns a fifth of VW's voting rights - comes under fire over accusations that at VW's request he toned a speech critical of the carmaker. Ciara Lee reports.

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First the diesel emissions scandal, then accusations of a cartel. It's been a bumpy few years for the German car industry. And the fallout continues. The premier of Germany's state of Lower Saxony is under fire for what some see as a too-cozy relationship with VW. Newspaper reports say Stephan Weil softened speeches critical of Volkswagen at the company's request. Something he denies. Weil's a member of VW's supervisory board. And Lower Saxony holds a fifth of its voting rights. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RICHARD HUNTER, WILSON KING INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, HEAD OF RESEARCH, SAYING: "When you have such a large contributor to the German GDP as the car industry quite apart from the source of national pride which it provides is perhaps not surprising that the government are keen to protect it wherever they can without getting too close." Helping protect it also means getting ahead in the electric game. Germany's deputy economy minister says the country should consider introducing binding quotas for electric cars. But the comments set up a possible policy clash with German carmakers. (SOUNDBITE) (German) HEAD OF CAPITAL MARKET ANALYSIS AT BAADER BANK, ROBERT HALVER, SAYING (on EMISSIONS SCANDAL): "Right now we have a huge reputation damage. This is our showcase industry. But it is incapable of saying it wants to further advance diesel technology. But that's what they should do. The diesel car is not dead and there is still a lot we can get out of it. It would be unwise to bite the hand that feeds 800,000 people." But the scandals keep on coming. German markets regulator BaFin says it's probing whether VW and Daimler violated disclosure rules and made use of whistleblower provisions as a way to limit fines for possible cartel violations Last week, German carmakers and the government agreed to contribute equally to a 500 million euro fund to reduce pollution. Although BMW's CEO says foreign carmakers should contribute too.

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German state premier on defensive over VW ties

Monday, August 07, 2017 - 01:57