German minister calls for diesel software upgrades by year-end: Sueddeutsche

FILE PHOTO: Andreas Scheuer of the Christian Social Union (CSU) arrives for coalition talks about forming a new coalition government at the CDU headquarters in Berlin, Germany, February 3, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt/File Photo

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German transport minister Andreas Scheuer is asking carmakers to tell him how they plan to complete by the end of the year outstanding software upgrades on diesel vehicles to reduce emissions, he told a newspaper.

"I am pushing for the promised 5.3 million cars to really be upgraded by the end of the year," Scheuer told Sueddeutsche Zeitung in an interview published on Friday.

"We are nearly done with the 2.5 million affected VW cars. For the other voluntary upgrades I have informed the manufacturers that they must present a time plan showing when they will deliver," he said.

The German car industry, which accounts for some 800,000 jobs in Europe's biggest economy, is struggling with a global backlash against diesel cars after Volkswagen admitted in 2015 that it had cheated U.S. exhaust tests.

Germany has committed to software upgrades for some 5.3 million diesel cars by the end of the year to reduce emissions by up to 30 percent.

"Time is running out. I will take the manufacturers at their word," Scheuer told Sueddeutsche.

The issue of emissions came to a head in February when a court allowed local authorities to bar heavily polluting diesel vehicles. Experts say bans could cut the resale value of up to 15 million diesel vehicles in Europe's biggest car market.

Scheuer affirmed that he was opposed to bans, and that there were technical, legal and financial arguments against costly hardware retrofits of diesel vehicles.

(Reporting by Maria Sheahan; editing by Richard Pullin)

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