MUNICH – Automakers scrambling to offer diesel particulate filters in Germany are having only limited success.
Mercedes-Benz began offering particulate filters as standard equipment in Germany on its C-, E-, and M-class diesel models last month. But the A- and B- class models will not get filters until the summer.
BMW cannot offer particulate filters as standard equipment on its best-selling model, the 3 series, or on the 1 series because of a “supplier bottleneck,” said BMW spokesman Wieland Bruch.
Diesel car sales in Germany have suffered over the past month after air pollution in German cities including Berlin and Munich breached European Union-imposed limits on certain days. Soot particulates emitted from diesel exhausts were identified in the German media as a significant source of the pollution.
Anticipating that 70 percent of its customers for diesel 3 series in Germany will want particulate filters, Bruch said new 3-series models are being built so that a filter can be retrofitted later at a local dealership.
Since March, 1-series diesels also have been built to allow a particulate filter to be added later. Bruch said the cost to add the filter is E580 plus labor.
BMW offers filters as standard only on 5- and 7-series diesel models.
Bruch said BMW doesn’t anticipate as high a demand in other major European markets such as Italy, the UK and France.
Mercedes’ also has been hit by a shortage of filters, said Thomas Weber, DaimlerChrysler’s board member in charge of research and technology, at the launch of the B class last week in Tarragona, Spain.
“We will not be also to offer filters in the B class until summer,” he said.
Mercedes’ and BMW’s filter supplier, Ibiden of Japan, can’t keep up demand for the substrate that is a key to the pollution-reducing system.
In Germany, Audi offers filters on its cars with 2.7- and 3.0-liter diesel engines at a cost of E690. Audi diesels with 2.0-liter engines will be offered with filters soon at a cost of E570.
Audi parent Volkswagen offers filters as standard equipment only on diesel versions of the Phaeton, Touareg and some Passat models. Retrofitting will be available for all its models starting in the autumn.
– Jens Meiners and Pia Krix contributed