Volkswagen is trying to reassure German customers worried about the future of their diesel cars by telling them they can trade in their new diesel if it is banned from the road by cities trying to meet air pollution limits.
The company said Thursday that the guarantee applies to new cars bought from a Volkswagen dealer from April 1 through the end of the year, and would be good for three years. If the car owner is hit with a ban on driving at work or at home, the car could go back to the dealer for a non-banned model.
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The German courts have ruled that cities with high pollution levels can ban diesel cars from circulation. That follows the scandal in 2015 in which Volkswagen rigged its diesel cars to cheat on U.S. emissions tests. In the wake of the scandal, other carmakers' diesel models were found also to have higher emissions during regular driving than during test procedures through use of regulatory loopholes. Environmental groups have pressed cities with high pollution levels to impose bans and diesel sales have fallen in the wake of the negative news.
The newest diesels must meet pollution standards during regular driving conditions as well as on test stands.
Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler say diesel engines remain a necessary part of the model lineup in order to meet tougher European Union limits on greenhouse gases. Diesels require more expensive emission controls to eliminate nitrogen oxide, a pollutant that harms health. But they emit less carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas blamed for global warming.
The company says it has already taken 170,000 older diesels off the road by offering incentives to trade them in for newer, cleaner models.