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2015-10-12 15:38

DIESEL CARS AT RISK: Could new, expensive emissions tests halt the sale and production of diesel cars? Image: AFP/ William West

Frankfurt - A rushed and overly tough change to European emissions tests, in the wake of the cheating scandal at Volkswagen could make diesel vehicles, so expensive that manufacturers could stop selling them, a trade body warned on Monday.

The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) said in a statement: "The automobile industry agrees with the need for emissions to more closely reflect real-world conditions, and has been calling for proposals for years.

"However, it is important to proceed in a way which allows manufacturers to plan and implement the necessary changes, without jeopardising the role of diesel as one of the key pillars for fulfilling future CO2 targets."

Harmful gasses

Diesel vehicles have been encouraged in some European markets because they can produce less carbon dioxide - a major greenhouse gas - than petrol vehicles. However, they can also produce higher levels of nitrous oxides (NOx), which are harmful to human health.

The European Commission has been ratcheting up pressure on automakers to agree to faster, deeper diesel emissions cuts, counting on public anger after Volkswagen admitted cheating in US emissions tests.

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European government officials met in Brussels last week in an attempt to unlock a stalemate over plans to introduce real-world measurements of NOx emissions rather than rely on easily manipulated lab tests.

Real-world NOx testing is due to begin early in 2016, with its results coming into play in late 2017.

ACEA said: "ACEA continues to stress the need for a timeline and testing conditions that take into account the technical and economic realities of today's markets, allowing for reasonable transition time to apply RDE (real driving emissions) to all new vehicles.

"Without realistic timeframes and conditions, some diesel models could effectively become unaffordable, forcing manufacturers to withdraw them from sale," hitting both consumers and jobs, ACEA said.

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