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German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened her re-election campaign with criticism of the nation’s auto executives. — Reuters picGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel opened her re-election campaign with criticism of the nation’s auto executives. — Reuters picBERLIN, Aug 12 — German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened her re-election campaign with criticism of the nation’s auto executives, saying they need to embrace new technology more quickly to protect jobs and repair damage done by a diesel cheating scandal.

Merkel, who’s running for a fourth term in the September 24 election, singled out the auto industry in a campaign speech focused on her pitch for what employers and the government should do to safeguard prosperity in Europe’s biggest economy. “Honesty” is one thing that’s needed to keep the German system working, she said.

“The way things were swept under the carpet or loopholes in emission tests were massively exploited — that destroys trust,” Merkel told an audience of her Christian Democratic Union’s labour activists in the industrial city of Dortmund today. “There’s a lot that still needs to be cleared up. We need diesel cars, we need gasoline cars, but we have to speed up the transition to new technologies.”

With six weeks to go until Germans cast their votes, Merkel’s CDU-led bloc leads the Social Democratic Party, her coalition partner and main challenger, by an average of 12 percentage points in the Bloomberg poll tracker.

Merkel, 63, has long presented herself as a known quantity at a time of global uncertainty and crises. She began her final campaign stretch focused closer to home, unveiling a pitch for a mix of economic stability and progress that’s meant to contrast with SPD challenger Martin Schulz’s emphasis on greater income equality.

While pressing the auto industry not to squander its global strength, she rejected Schulz’s call this week for a European Union quota for electric vehicles. Such a target might be unreachable, harming the push for cleaner vehicles more than it helps, she said. — Bloomberg

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