Germany is open in principle to class action lawsuits against carmakers engulfed in the diesel emissions cheating scandal, the Transport Ministry said on Monday ahead of a diesel summit this week. David Pollard reports.
Car madness is curable, the placard says - but for the industry itself the remedy could hurt. This court backing a bid to ban diesel cars from Stuttgart. The German home of Porsche and Mercedes-Benz, as well suppliers Bosch and Mahle. (SOUNDBITE) (German) SPOKESWOMAN STUTTGART ADMINISTRATIVE COURT, ULRIKE ZEITLER, SAYING: "An effective measure for the court is a blanket driving ban within Stuttgart's environmental zone which must come into effect from January 1, 2018." That was Friday. This was Monday. (SOUNDBITE) (German) SPOKESMAN FOR GERMAN TRANSPORT MINISTER, SEBASTIAN HILLE, SAYING: "I believe I already said it last week that in principle, we are open to class action lawsuits." That second blow could put legal action over dieselgate up one or even more gears. And comes two days before Germany's federal and state governments meet carmakers to discuss ways to avoid diesel bans. The stakes raised ahead of nationwide elections in September. (SOUNDBITE) (German) BAADER BANK'S HEAD OF CAPITAL MARKET ANALYSIS, ROBERT HALVER, SAYING: "Politicians are putting the car industry under a lot of pressure. If diesel owners vote for the wrong party, the German government would have a problem. So I expect the car industry to say 'yes, a retrofit is possible.'" But Germany's environment ministry has warned that software improvements cut nitrogen oxygen emissions by only about 25 per cent. A retrofit, it says, would just be a first step forward. For an industry in danger of moving several steps backwards with its other, emerging, scandal. Allegations of collusion by its biggest makers that mask - say analysts - a strong underlying performance. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LCG SENIOR ANALYST, JASPER LAWLER, SAYING: "We've had some some strong earnings from carmakers. And that actually looks like there's there's unit sales growth on the cards in Europe. And so actually the fundamentals for the auto industry look good." If for now it appears stuck in a one-way street - with most of the traffic against it.