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German government set up diesel summit with auto bosses

July 19, 2017 GMT
FILE - In this Feb. 5, 2015 file photo the logo of a Mercedes car is photographed during an annual press conference of Daimler AG in Stuttgart, Germany. German automaker Daimler says Tuesday, July 18, 2017 it is voluntarily recalling 3 million diesel cars in Europe to improve their emissions performance. The Stuttgart-based company, which makes Mercedes-Benz luxury cars, says it is taking the step to reassure drivers and strengthen confidence in diesel technology. (AP Photo/Michael Probst, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 5, 2015 file photo the logo of a Mercedes car is photographed during an annual press conference of Daimler AG in Stuttgart, Germany. German automaker Daimler says Tuesday, July 18, 2017 it is voluntarily recalling 3 million diesel cars in Europe to improve their emissions performance. The Stuttgart-based company, which makes Mercedes-Benz luxury cars, says it is taking the step to reassure drivers and strengthen confidence in diesel technology. (AP Photo/Michael Probst, File)

BERLIN (AP) — The German government has invited leading automakers to a meeting next month to discuss how to reduce diesel emissions.

Transport Ministry spokesman Sebastian Hille said Wednesday the CEOs of Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Daimler, Ford’s German branch and Opel are invited for the Aug. 2 meeting, alongside several ministers and the governors of those German states which are auto industry centers or particularly affected by nitrogen oxide emissions.

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Diesels have been under a cloud since Volkswagen admitted nearly two years ago of equipping vehicles with illegal software to pass emissions tests, but then exceeded limits in everyday driving. There have been calls for diesel bans in German cities to reduce excessive pollution levels. On Tuesday, Daimler said it will voluntarily recall 3 million Mercedes-Benz cars to improve their emissions performance.

Hille welcomed Daimler’s announcement and said it showed talks ahead of the August summit “are leading to significant movement.”

Daimler said it would tweak engine software to reduce diesel emissions, using what it has learned in developing a new line of diesel engines. It also said it would accelerate use of the newer engines across its model line.

CEO Dieter Zetsche said the move was designed to reassure customers because the public debate over diesel’s future was creating uncertainty. He said that “we are convinced that diesel engines will continue to be a fixed element of the drive-system mix, not least due to their low CO2 emissions.”

About half the cars sold in Germany are diesels and thousands of people are employed making them. Their lower emissions of carbon dioxide make them part of efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.