Don't bury the combustion engine just yet: German minister

Auto Associated Press

(Reuters)

The U.K. and France have put gasoline and diesel engines on notice by announcing plans to ban them after 2040. But don’t bury the internal combustion engine just yet, Germany’s transport minister said Thursday.

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The German government has shown a reluctance to follow Britain and others in banning the sale of new cars and vans using diesel and gasoline. Although automakers largely accepted the coming ban in the U.K., the industry cautioned that heavy investments are needed to support electric vehicles, which account for a small portion of current sales.

German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt said "electromobility will be the future" but argued it's not yet clear what form it will take and when that will be. He added, "I don't think it makes much sense to talk today about being able to bury the combustion engine."

Germany is home to auto powerhouses including Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW. The industry is currently looking for a way out of persistent troubles over excessive diesel emissions, and the government is hosting a meeting with auto bosses next week to discuss ways to reduce them.

Meanwhile, recent German news reports suggested that VW, Daimler and BMW may have participated in anti-competitive behavior. The European Union has begun looking into the allegations, which included claims that German automakers collaborated on diesel technology.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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