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DIESEL SCANDAL: Germany rushes car firms deal in desperate bid to keep Merkel ...

The leaders of Germany’s auto giants met with German officials in a desperate attempt to deal with the ongoing scandal hitting the industry - but despite the importance of the meeting, Mrs Merkel, who is seeking reelection in the upcoming parliamentary elections, was nowhere to be seen.

The German chancellor was hiking in the Swiss Alps with her husband while leading ministers, including economy minister Brigitte Zypries, environment minister Barbara Hendricks and transport minister Alexander Dobrindt, struck a deal that could save Mrs Merkel’s election hopes.

BMW, Volkswagen, Opel and Daimler are set to employ new engine management software, which will improve emission filtering systems and cut toxic nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels by 25-30 per cent, the industry association VDA said.

The VDA said the software updates would be free for motorists and would be just as effective in cutting NOx levels as any bans on diesel cars in cities.

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In a statement, the VDA said: “The car industry is aware that it has lost a huge amount of trust.

“We must and we will work to win back this trust.”

Of the five million cars covered by the agreement, around half are Volkswagens - an interesting fact given that the carmaker is still reeling from the 2015 Dieselgate scandal, in which the company was found to have used special software to cheat emissions tests.

Meanwhile, BMW will give a discount of up to £1,792 (€2,000) to drivers who exchange an old Euro-4 category BMW when they buy a new diesel model, electric BMW or Mini. Ford has made a similar offer.

The agreement will be welcome news to Mrs Merkel, with German elections just weeks away and the country’s car industry a major source of national pride, as well as providing around 800,000 jobs.

angela merkel diesel emissions deal germanyGETTYThe deal could prove a huge boost to Angela Merkel's bid to remain Chancellor

However, some critics have said the deal is not comprehensive

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