EU nations agree on stricter emissions testing in wake of VW scandal

Posted at 12:17 PM, Oct 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-28 13:52:29-04

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union nations have agreed on tougher emissions tests for diesel cars after the Volkswagen scandal showed previous methods were ineffective.

The new standards, though, give carmakers five years to bring them close to what the real emissions standards should be.

The EU's executive Commission said Wednesday that the new tests will more closely resemble real road conditions. From Sep. 1, 2017 new car models will have to pass the new emissions test before they can be put on the market.

"The EU is the first and only region in the world to mandate these robust testing methods," said EU Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska.

Until now, car companies had legal ways to cut corners on the emissions tests. They used a single example of the car model — a so-called "golden vehicle" — that was outfitted especially to do well on the tests. The back seats might be pulled out to reduce weight, for example, or the doors taped over to reduce air drag.

That means that the cars on the road emit far above the technical limits, an average of about 400 percent more.

Under the new deal, the carmakers will be allowed to exceed more than twice the agreed emissions limits until September 2017 for new models and until 2019 for any new vehicles.

The amount by which new models will be allowed to exceed the emissions limits will be reduced to 1.5 times by 2020 and by 2021 for all new vehicles.

Experts from the 28 EU nations approved the methods by a "large majority."

The leeway car producers still get ran into immediate opposition.

"Allowing car manufacturers to completely disregard car standards for another five years is terrible news for our environment and for consumer trust in European car brands," said Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, a European Parliament member for the liberal ALDE group.