German voters who propelled the Greens party to a record result in Baden-Wuerttemberg may have ushered in a speed limit on highways in the state that’s home to luxury carmakers Porsche SE and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz unit.
The Greens helped defeat Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition in a regional election yesterday on a platform that includes a speed limit to reduce vehicle emissions of 120 kilometers per hour (74.6 miles per hour), less than half the top speed of a recent Porsche model. About 65 percent of the state’s highways currently have no speed limit.
“Traffic in Baden-Wuerttemberg contributes around 30 percent to carbon-dioxide emissions,” Winfried Kretschmann, who is poised to become the Greens’ first state premier, said on the party’s website. “It’s clear that the transportation sector has to make a contribution of its own to reduce this gas that’s harmful to the environment.”
An Autobahn speed limit is just one measure that may affect the car industry in the state where the first gasoline-powered automobile was patented in 1886 by Carl Benz. The Greens also favor “more efficient engines,” the development of cars that use less gas, the introduction of city tolls and tax breaks for environmentally friendly vehicles.
Stuttgart-based Porsche, which was this month due to begin selling a 63,400-euro ($89,300) Boxster S Black Edition with a top speed of 276 kilometers per hour, declined to comment on the outcome of yesterday’s elections, spokesman Dirk Erat said by phone today.
“The fact that our cars are built for high speeds is an important argument in other countries for buying them,” Daimler Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said in a March 2 Stern magazine interview. “We’re well advised to maintain the Autobahn sections that don’t have a speed limit.”
The Greens want to build on the state’s track record of innovation to focus on environmental products and services, and “for the car industry that means we will try to push technology that cuts petrol consumption,” Kretschmann told reporters in Stuttgart on March 23.
“The car industry would definitely have no reason to fear us,” he said in an interview the same day.
The Greens took a record 24.2 percent in Baden-Wuerttemberg while their Social Democratic Party allies won 23.1 percent. The parties’ combined 47.3 percent is enough to beat Merkel’s Christian Democrats and their Free Democratic Party coalition partner, which together won 44.3 percent. The CDU and FDP reject blanket speed limits.
The Greens will begin talks later today on forming a coalition with the Social Democrats, Kretschmann said in Berlin. The SPD favors a speed limit of 130 kilometers per hour.