Bonn and Cologne must now introduce bans on older diesel vehicles in order to not breach EU pollution standard, a court ruled. Older diesel cars that emit higher pollutants are already being banned in other cities. Hamburg introduced a ban in May, but environmental groups slammed the its lack of range.
Berlin and Stuttgart announced similar bans for next year after a federal-court decision in February.
It comes after Volkswagen admitted in 2015 it had cheated emissions tests in the US in a scandal dubbed the “diesel dupe”.
“Defeat device” software in the US cheated diesel engine emissions tests.
BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen face and EU inquiry for allegedly conspiring to restrict diesel emissions treatment systems.
Thursday’s ruling comes as a further blow for Mrs Merkel, who had proposed legislation to halt diesel bans in some cities.
The outgoing chancellor, who is stepping down in 2021, had tabled proposals to stop bans in cities that only breached EU limits partially.
Cologne’s administrative court decided Germany’s former capital Bonn must impose the bans on two major roads.
Some buses should also be refitted to comply with the pollution rules.
Cologne must introduce bans on older Euro 4 diesel vehicles in some areas from April 2019.
It must extend the ban to Euro 5 vehicles by September.
The court ruling came as German carmakers vowed to spend up to £2,600 (€3,000) per vehicle to help reduce diesel emissions.
The joint government and industry move is in response to driving bans imposed in major cities.
Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer and car bosses were hammering out a deal on anti-pollution measures during five-hour meeting.
Volkswagen and Daimler will offer hardware refits to clean up older diesel vehicles at their own cost.
But BMW is refusing to do so, according to Mr Scheur.
Among the changes as part of the £2,600 (€3,000) changes that will be offered by Germany’s three biggest carmakers are trade-in incentives.
It is hoped the move will convince customers to buy newer vehicles that have lower emissions and would not be affected by driving bans.
Mrs Merkel’s government wants carmakers to shoulder more of the burden of refitting the cars.
But Germany’s car industry has been reluctant to spend more money on the costs.
Mr Scheuer said: ”Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW will make sure their customers can remain mobile.”