In the current debate, particulate matter and NOx are discussed as one problem. The fact is that the problem of engine-related particulate matter emissions was solved with the introduction of the diesel particulate filter.
Back in 1985, Mercedes-Benz equipped its first diesel cars with particulate filters. The experience gained in this project provided the basis for developing innovative filtering technologies with a very high level of efficiency – they make the diesel practically soot-free. These filters have been standard equipment at Mercedes-Benz since 2005. We also rely on the widespread use of particulate filters for petrol models. Since summer 2018, we have equipped practically all of our petrol models with a petrol particulate filter.
Naturally, there are also older vehicles on our roads. All in all, however, fine dust emissions by vehicle engines are low.
Example - Neckartor in Stuttgart: According to the Federal Environment Agency and the City of Stuttgart, engines are only responsible for less than 10 percent of fine dust emissions. The remainder of the traffic-related fine dust consists of particles whirled up from the road surface – whether by diesel, petrol or electrically powered vehicles. These first results and an extended test at the Neckartor in Stuttgart have shown that these whirled-up particles can be significantly reduced with a road sweeping machine.
This is just an example, but it shows that when it comes to further reductions in fine particles, there are a number of effective alternatives to driving bans: improved traffic flows, closer cooperation between municipalities, suppliers and automotive manufacturers, the electrification of local public transport and distribution transport are in our view equally appropriate ways to improve air quality in the cities.
All in all, fine dust emissions in Germany have also fallen further in recent years. Fine dust comes from a wide variety of sources which can be locally very different: in Germany, they are mainly agriculture, industry, construction, small combustion heaters in private households and whirled-up abrasions from vehicle tyres and brakes.
The daily limit for the fine dust fraction PM10 is 50 µg/m3, and must not be exceeded more often than 35 times in a year. In Germany, the limits were complied with in 2018, with a single exception – the measuring station in Lünen (36 excessive readings). The permissible annual mean value is 40 µg/m3. As in 2017, this value was not exceeded at any German measuring station in 2018.
Since 2010, an annual mean target value of 25 µg/m3 for fine PM 2.5 particles in the outside air has applied in Europe. Compliance with this has been mandatory since 2015. According to the Federal Environment Agency, this value was last exceeded in 2010 (Stuttgart Neckartor measuring station, 27 µg/m3 annual mean). Since then, no cases of exceeding the limit have been registered in Germany.