The symbol of Germany's "economic miracle" has long been its mighty auto industry, but Chancellor Angela Merkel has made carmakers a whipping boy as she opens her re-election campaign.
The conservative Christian Democratic Union candidate, who faces voters next month, ripped auto executives for destroying trust in the sector following Volkswagen Group's admitting two years ago it cheated U.S. diesel emissions tests.
This month, German politicians and car bosses agreed to overhaul engine software on 5.3 million diesel cars to cut pollution and try to repair the industry's battered reputation.
"Large sections of the auto industry have gambled away unbelievable amounts of trust," she told a rally in Dortmund, in the heart of the industrial Ruhr area.
Merkel pressed execs to win back confidence through technology.
"This is trust that only the auto industry can restore. And when I say 'the industry' that is the company leaders," she added, to loud applause, pressing executives to behave honestly.
Merkel called for transitioning to electric cars. "We need to innovate quickly," she said. "Where companies can't manage it alone, the government must stand behind them and shove things along."