London mayor Sadiq Khan has written to the UK bosses of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen calling for them to chip into his air quality fund.
The mayor said the car giants should compensate for the negative impacts their diesel vehicles have on air quality and public health in the capital. Khan said the car firms in question have already contributed up to £223m to the German government's sustainable mobility fund for cities, and should now take action in London.
Road transport accounts for around half of nitrogen oxide emissions in London, and the mayor says 90 per cent of them are caused by diesel emissions.
He has also written to the transport secretary, looking for the government to secure contributions from vehicle manufacturers on the same scale as the billions received from Volkswagen in the US.
Londoners will be baffled by the double standards of these car manufacturers. On the one hand, they admit they’ve got to cut emissions from their vehicles, but they confine their funding to Germany alone. This is ridiculous, as their vehicles are driven all over Europe, including on London’s roads. They must apply the same approach across all the markets that they trade in.
In July, the UK managing director of VW sat in my office and said they couldn’t contribute anything to fund cleaning up London’s air, but their German colleagues are providing money. Londoners will find that unacceptable.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said in response: “We should not divert investment away from vital research and development of new technology and it is unfair to penalise manufacturers who have produced vehicles that have consistently met the strictest emission standards.
"We continue to work with government to encourage the uptake of the latest, low emission vehicles through a positive approach which gives consumers incentives to purchase these cars.”
BMW said in a statement:
The actions taken in Germany are part of a co-funded, broad package of measures under a new joint approach between the German government, local authorities and manufacturers.
These are likely to include the development of an effective electric recharging infrastructure, intelligent traffic management systems and the encouragement of car sharing.
BMW Group is in constant discussion with UK governments and authorities, as well as taking its own initiatives, to encourage the uptake of the latest low and zero emissions car technologies and sharing initiatives.
In July, the mayor criticised Volkswagen for showing "utter contempt" for Londoners, after the German car firm refused to pay £2.5m to compensate congestion charge money lost due to the emissions scandal.
VW, however, said all of its vehicles that benefited from the congestion charge greener vehicle discount "did so validly throughout the relevant period", and that there was "no basis" on which it could be said that TfL has lost any sums as a result of the NOx issue, so no compensation was due.
A T-charge comes into effect from 23 October in the capital, on top of the congestion charge, which Khan said should help remove older polluting vehicles from central London.