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Published October 29, 2007 11:27 AM

German carmakers blast motorway speed limit idea

HAMBURG, Germany (Reuters) - Imposing a standard speed limit of 130 kph (80 mph) on German motorways would have scant impact on the environment and only hurt domestic carmakers, the country's VDA auto industry group said on Monday.

"Such fixed speed limits would be an ecological zero-sum game and would damage the German auto sector," VDA President Matthias Wissmann said in a statement to Reuters.

Germany is unusual in that stretches of its motorways still have no speed limit, and the country's influential car industry has lobbied hard against any national rules.

Wissmann was reacting to a Social Democrats (SPD) vote at the weekend to support a speed limit as a way to curb emissions of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2). The SPD governs in a coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives.

Merkel ruled out the idea on Sunday.

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Wissmann said Berlin could do far more for the environment by introducing car taxes based on CO2 output, getting rid of traffic jams and ensuring the smooth flow of traffic.

He pointed out that 98 percent of Germany's roads -- and more than half its motorway stretches -- already have speed limits.

Some environmental groups say speed caps would cut vehicle CO2 output by 5 percent immediately and 15 percent in the longer term, once more fuel-efficient cars are used.

Drivers' association ADAC has also rejected the idea although some polls show up to 60 percent of Germans favor it.

German manufacturers of high-powered cars include BMW, Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volkswagen's premium arm Audi.

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