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Environmental zones for e-cars?

Electric cars could soon be affected by the restrictions imposed by environmental zones. Due to their high particulate matter production, the OECD demands that the emissions of electric cars be taken into account in driving bans. Manufacturers like Daimler would then have to switch to significantly smaller models or filter systems.

Stuttgart knows a thing or two about driving bans. In addition to a normal environmental zone, there is the only comprehensive diesel driving ban zone in Germany. Only the newest diesels are allowed to enter a large section of the city. In addition to the driving bans, Stuttgart had also tried to curb air pollution in heavily affected areas such as the Neckartor with filter systems and moss walls. Now the measures are finally showing success.

The Stuttgart-based car company Daimler is accordingly switching more and more to e-cars. Diesel and petrol cars are less in demand. But some e-cars could also soon be affected by the driving bans. This is because the manufacturers are mainly focusing on luxury sedans and SUVs, which are significantly heavier than the small, city-suitable internal combustion cars from the earlier years. Due to the sheer size of the e-cars, but also the heavy batteries, the vehicles have an enormous weight. As has been known for some time, this leads to increased particulate matter production through non-exhaust emissions, i.e. the abrasion on tyres, brakes and the road.  The heavier a car, the more particulate matter it produces through abrasion. The company does not seem to care about this when it comes to production. The big, comfortable cars are popular and sell well. Only recently, the Mercedes GLS received the negative award "Golden Vulture 2020" because of its harmfulness to the climate. The committee at the time: "Monstrous city tanks like the Mercedes GLS harm the climate and have no place in our cities".

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is now calling for non-exhaust emissions to be included in the limits for vehicles because of the high particulate matter pollution caused by e-cars. Heavy e-cars could then soon be affected by driving bans like the one in Stuttgart. The companies would have to switch their production to much smaller, environmentally friendly models, or equip the heavy vehicles with filters that catch the non-exhaust emissions directly at the source.

The regulation is necessary to actually steer e-car production in a climate and environmentally friendly direction. It is also not fair that old combustion cars have to disappear from the roads, even though they do not necessarily emit more particulate matter than e-cars, just because it comes from the exhaust and not from the tyres. The heavy e-cars are a boondoggle for the environment and climate and disadvantage consumers who cannot afford a new, expensive e-car.

Will politicians include non-exhaust emissions in the emission standards, or will manufacturers change their minds on their own? What is clear is that the production of particulate matter by e-cars is a problem that urgently needs to be addressed.