Martin Schulz, leader of the German Social Democratic Party, has attacked Germany’s automobile industry for mistakes made by “irresponsible managers”, with European drivers shouldering the losses. “The problem is that we are in a situation where managers worth millions, at Volkswagen, at Daimler, have slept through the future… and did not invest where they should have,” said Mr Schulz yesterday.
Mr Schulz, the former President of the European Parliament, said drivers should not have to “foot the bill” to trade in cars which are too polluting. He also called for an EU-wide quota for electric cars.
The accusation comes in the context of the Volkswagen emissions scandal, with the German automobile giant admitting millions of its cars were sold with software which allowed the cars to ‘cheat’ emissions tests. The scandal has badly damaged the reputation of the country’s car industry, and German public opinion has turned against the influence of the industry in politics in recent weeks.
Mr Schulz is running to replace German Chancellor Angela Merkel, of the centre-right CDU-CSU party, in the election to be held on 24 September. Chancellor Merkel has also criticised the automobile industry in recent days, whilst maintaining a more moderate tone than her opponent. She is expected to be re-elected as Chancellor, with the latest poll putting Merkel’s CDU-CSU fourteen points above Schulz’s SPD.