Improving the quality of the air is high on every political agenda adopted expressly for the protection of mankind and the environment. Germany's government has enacted a raft of measures driving the effort to achieve the limits imposed by the European Union. They are geared toward the aim of having diesel-powered passenger cars, trucks and public transport buses modernised with exhaust aftertreatment technologies.
The low emission zones (LEZs) that have been introduced in 50-plus cities across Germany are of considerable importance in this respect. Other cities are set to follow this example. Retrofitting enables private car owners and fleet operators alike to re-obtain unrestricted access to these low emission zones. Public transport authorities put cleaner buses on the city roads and so live up to the expectations they awake as role models.
Each car owner who opted to retrofit a diesel particulate filter by the end of 2009 received a €330 cash subsidy from the state. This subsidy has proved so successful that the programme is to be extended and indeed expanded to cover light commercial vehicles as well. This can be expected to come into force when the federal budget for 2010 is ratified. In all probability the measure will also be made retroactive so as to cover the first quarter of 2010.
Companies that modernise their fleets and fit particle filters to their trucks also benefit from the subsidies known as 'de-minimis' aids. Furthermore, the truck toll changes introduced on 1 January 2009 in Germany are a further incentive to keep the fleet clean and allow only vehicles with low emission levels to take to the roads.