LEIPZIG : A top German court on Tuesday ruled that cities can impose diesel driving bans to combat air pollution, a landmark decision that -

Plunges millions of  car owners into uncertainty.

The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig found that local authorities can legally ban older, dirty diesels from certain zones as part of their efforts to improve air quality - a drastic move that could  reshape inner-city travel and upend the auto industry.

The court did not any bans itself, leaving that up to the city and municipal authorities. 

The judges did however urge them to ''exercise proportionality'' and said any curbs should be introduced gradually and allow for certain exemptions.

While the legal battle centered around the smog-clogged cities of Stuttgart and Dusseldorf, it could have far-reaching repercussions in Europe's biggest economy.

The ruling is a major blow to the government and the nation's mighty automakers who have long opposed driving bans, fearing outrage from diesel owners whose vehicles could plummet in value.


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