European car-makers have won the first round of their fight to postpone tougher emissions testing despite Volkswagen’s deception over current limits.
The European Union’s industrial-policy chief scaled back proposed tougher tests on car pollution after member states said they were concerned about potential costs for automakers who employ hundreds of thousands of people.
A tightening of the law on diesels could lead to thousands of job losses in the short term, feared governments
Elzbieta Bienkowska, the European commissioner for industrial policy, diluted a proposal linked to an EU-wide plan to start gauging emissions of smog-causing nitrogen oxides under real driving conditions in September 2017.
The testing overhaul stems from evidence that discharges on the road are 400 percent to 500 percent higher than in laboratories.
Now, Bienkowska agreed to let real-world NOx emissions exceed permissible discharges by as much as 110 percent for a further 27 months until January 2020, abandoning an earlier proposal for a maximum 60 percent overshoot until autumn 2019 after nations including Germany demanded more leeway.
But there is the possibility that MEPs will not accept her proposal and will still press for the 2017 deadline while environmental groups may also take legal action through the European courts which would mandate the governments to impose the lower limits or face hefty fines.
Volkswagen this week posted a €3.48 loss in the third quarter as it started to feel the effects of its actions and is braced for still higher losses when it has to pay for remedial work on vehicles, fines and compensation claims around the world, notably in the USA.
The knee-jerk reaction to the diesel debate is likely to accelerate the move towards petrol-hybrid or fully electric cars, say analysts, while Toyota believe there is still a sound case for diesel due to economy, particularly for commercial vehicles.