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Germany to Sponsor Diesel Filters from 2006

Germany to Sponsor Diesel Filters from 2006
BERLIN - Germany will offer tax incentives for diesel particle filters from 2006 as part of a move to cut harmful engine emissions in line with new European Union requirements, the government confirmed on Wednesday.

German Finance Minister Hans Eichel agreed the programme, which will cost 1.5 billion euros and offer incentives of 350 euros ($456) for new cars and 250 euros for older cars, with Environment Minister Juergen Trittin, a spokesman said.

The scheme was originally due to start this year but was postponed by Eichel. It will now run until the end of 2007.

Environment groups have said respiratory disorders caused by soot particles in the air kill some 8,000 people every year in Germany, and they criticised the delay until 2006.

"Gerhard Schroeder evidently wants to live up to his reputation as the automobile Chancellor," environmental group Greenpeace said in a statement. "He is delaying the urgently required sponsorship of diesel filters until next year and is setting the level much too low."

But Germany's VDA automotive industry association welcomed the move and said the market had finally some clarity.

"The German car industry is prepared for this. Eight out of ten diesel-engine cars bought in Germany during 2004 were made by German firms," said VDA president Bernd Gottschalk.

Germany's automobile industry has pledged to fit all new cars with diesel particle filters by 2008.

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