Diesel driving bans in German cities potentially affect 13 million vehicles. But a conversion would be possible, approx. 2,000 € would make affected vehicles "fit for urban use", an investment of about 26 billion Eur. The only question is, who should pay?
Why not the automotive industry, VW alone has posted a record profit of 11 billion euros in 2017.
But the spectre that some 1.8 million jobs in Germany are directly or indirectly linked to the automotive industry seems to be keeping politicians from consistently holding those responsible for the damage accountable. But it will be of little help to preserve the ashes of politically protecting yesterday's technologies and business models in Germany as a high-tech location.
On the contrary, policymakers should set clear regulatory signs for the future, forcing car manufacturers to be lucky and forcing them to invest in electric mobility and alternative mobility concepts. Then board members will also have better arguments against their shareholders to invest more in the future of their own company - and not to show record profits one after the other.
A look back helps:
At the end of the 19th century, a large number of jobs were already being created in the mobility industry. 6 million hectares of agriculture alone were used to feed the horses of inner-city mobility in the USA. Horse droppings collectors did what the name suggests and sold their "goods" to allotment gardeners. "Crossing sweepers" cleaned the street crossings for fine people who didn't want to arrive at the other end with dirty shoes. A lot of people were busy picking up and disposing of the 1,800 tons of horse manure that was produced in New York alone.
And then came the automobile, made all these jobs superfluous. Is that why we are worse today? Hardly.
How should the horse-drawn carriage industry respond? William C. Durant showed us how:
From 1886, with only $2,000 in seed capital, he built the largest American horse-drawn carriage manufacturer, Durant-Dort Carriage. Recognizing the signs of the times, he left the company at the beginning of the 20th century and bought the local automobile manufacturer Buick in 1904, five years later the most successful automobile manufacturer in the USA. And Durant continued to invest, founding General Motors in 1909 and buying brands such as Cadillac and Oldsmobile. So it was a horse-drawn carriage manufacturer that built the largest automobile conglomerate in the USA.
We, on the other hand, are celebrating the last party on the Titanic... The band is playing, we have the tuxedo on - but we know how the story will end. So it's time to do the only sensible thing and leave the party. Sure, the lifeboat won't be nearly as pleasant as the ballroom.
But it is time to set the signs for the future. Let's get into the boats!