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From Dusk till Dieselgate: Policy Insights from a Comparison of Mobility in Germany and the United States

Despite having one of the highest car ownership rates in Europe, Germany has managed to decrease greenhouse gas emissions from transport by about 3.2% between 1990 and 2013 (EEA 2016). Germany’s experience contrasts with steadily increasing emissions in the US transport sector, which has relied heavily on the so-called CAFE standards to increase the fuel economy of the car fleet. While the German transport sector is also subject to legal limits on fuel efficiency and, hence, the CO2 discharge of newly registered automobiles, Germany levies very high fuel taxes relative to those in the US. This raises the question of the relative influence of fuel taxes and efficiency standards on both driving behavior and automotive technology, particularly with respect to the mix of petrol and diesel engines in the car fleet, as well as the introduction of new technologies like electric and biofuel vehicles. Given the increasing diffusion of such vehicles and the growing importance of the limits of conventional engines, most notably diesel, this project undertakes a comparative analysis of Germany and the US to address this question, focusing specifically on the discrepancies in how households reach mobility decisions in response to changes in the relative costs of alternative modes and vehicle technologies. Given that motorists’ choices are conditioned by both social and technological constraints, a central emphasis will be to explore how such constraints differ between Germany and the US and the implications.


Currently there are no publications available for this project

Project start:
01. October 2017

Project end:
30. September 2019

Project management:
Prof. Dr. Manuel Frondel, Prof. Colin Vance Ph.D.

Project staff:
Dr. Marco Horvath, Prof. Dr. Stephan Sommer

Project partners:
Ralph Buehler, Virgina Tech, Frank Goetzke, University of Louisville, James LeSage, Texas State University, Jacqueline Geoghegan, Clark University, Ken Gillingham, Yale University