German government urges automakers to pay diesel upgrades

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FILE-In this Sept. 24, 2018 file photo an exhaust of a vehicle is pictured in Frankfurt, Germany. (Boris Roessler/dpa via AP)

The German government is calling on automakers to pay for upgrades to diesel vehicles with excessively high emissions, as part of a deal to avert driving bans next year.

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A spokesman for the environment ministry said Friday that the government "can't tolerate this refusal" by German automakers to shoulder the cost of fixing diesel cars.

The head of Germany's powerful auto lobby group VDI, Bernhard Mattes, had told Deutschlandfunk radio that manufacturers favor giving car owners rebates to buy new vehicles over hardware upgrades to millions of diesel vehicles.

The ministry spokesman, Nikolai Fichtner, told reporters in Berlin that the upgrades have to start "very, very quickly" otherwise car owners may find themselves banned from driving in certain cities from October 2019.