Merkel rival says executives endangering car industry

BERLIN: Martin Schulz (pictured), the main challenger to Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany’s September 24 election, accused the country’s auto executives on Sunday of putting the industry at risk by failing to plan for the future.
The future of the auto sector, Germany’s biggest exporter and provider of some 800,000 jobs, has become a hot election issue as politicians pile blame on executives and each other for the sector’s battered reputation after an emissions scandal.
Schulz, leader of the left-leaning Social Democratic Party (SPD), took aim at what he described as “irresponsible managers” in the sector.
“The problem is, we are living through a situation in Germany in which managers worth millions at VW, at Daimler, have fallen asleep and forgotten the future,” he told broadcaster ZDF.
The crisis in the sector blew up when Volkswagen admitted to cheating US emissions tests almost two years ago.
VW, along with German manufacturers BMW, Daimler, Audi and Porsche are also being investigated by European regulators for alleged anti-competitive collusion.
Seeking to restore the industry’s reputation, politicians – though not Merkel herself – and car bosses agreed earlier this month to overhaul engine software on 5.3 million diesel cars to cut pollution.
Former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, himself a former member of VW’s supervisory board, accused Merkel of neglecting her duties by going on holiday rather than chairing the talks with industry bosses on diesel emissions. — Reuters

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