With the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal going on almost two months now, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel met with California regulators and politicians, including ex-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, more than five years ago in Beverly Hills, CA, to complain that the Golden State's emissions rules, especially concerning nitrogen oxide limits, were hurting California sales of German vehicles. Which begs the question: did Ms. Merkel not notice all of the Audis, Bimmers, Benzes, and Porsches regularly being paraded around that well-heeled city?

The Journal cited comments California Air Resources Board (CARB) Director Mary Nichols made to German publication WirtschaftsWoche, and other CARB officials verified Nichols' recollection. Nichols said no other political foreign leader had ever been that specific when it came to the state's emissions mandate and its impact of sales on vehicles from a particular country, but, then again, the automotive industry does make up a substantial chunk of Germany's gross domestic product.

California has long been at the forefront of stricter US emissions standards, taking a lead role in pushing for catalytic converters, smog-testing, and other anti-pollution efforts that since have become standard, so state officials may take the chancellor's complaints as a compliment of sorts. Of any state, California represents by far the largest concentration of the about 500,000 diesel vehicles with so-called "cheat" software that have been sold in the US. About 11 million of these vehicles have been sold globally.

Last month, CARB said it would give Volkswagen until November 20 to detail how and when the diesel vehicles with such software would be repaired.


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