EU eases diesel car emission limits despite VW scandal
EU member states agreed Wednesday to ease pollution limits for diesel cars when tested under real driving conditions, despite the fallout from the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal, the European Commission said.
The Commission said that from 2020, car manufacturers will be allowed leeway of 50 percent above the EU limits on nitrogen oxide emissions, which harm public health.
It was the major differences between the results in laboratory tests compared to ones in real driving conditions that prompted authorities in the US to confront Germany's Volkswagen, sparking the scandal that has rocked the auto industry.
The scandal on Wednesday pushed Volkswagen to book its first quarterly loss in more than 15 years as it set aside huge amounts of money to cover the expected bill from regulators and angry customers.
The new tests are meant to be far more reliable alternatives to the lab regime but car manufacturers in Europe insist that meeting the standards will require time for Europe's most important industry, which employs 12 million people.
"The EU is the first and only region in the world to mandate these robust testing methods. And this is not the end of the story," said Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska, responsible for Internal Market.
In Wednesday's accord, the member states agreed to phase in real-driving tests over the next six years.
In a first step starting in September 2017, new models would be allowed to overshoot the EU's official nitrogen oxide limit by 110 percent.
In the second and permanent step, the discrepancy will be brought down to 50 percent.
"This disgraceful and legally questionable decision must be rejected by the European Parliament," said Greg Archer, of anti-pollution NGO Transport & Environment.
"For car-making countries 'Dieselgate' has never happened. Nitrogen dioxide pollution, mainly from diesel cars, causes premature deaths, asthma and birth abnormalities," Archer said.
© 2015 AFP