The proposed regulations would test emissions under conditions closer to the real world starting in 2017, but they also would allow automakers to produce up to 50 percent over the mandated nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels. The measure was a compromise created by the EU and automakers and still requires ratification by the European Parliament.
Proponents of the new rules argue that coming up with tighter regulations could take years, and accepting the proposed compromise at least allows for some progress on vehicle emissions. However, environmental advocates claim that the proposal is too weak. "The clear intention ... is to prevent this fundamentally-flawed driving emissions test procedure from being rejected," Rebecca Harms, co-head of the Green group, said about the delay to Reuters.
Research indicates that the tests under the current New European Driving Cycle are woeful at lining up with real-world levels of NOx emissions. The EU has been working to close the loophole by moving to a more realistic evaluation, but the political process has been slow because lobbying groups for automakers vehemently pushed back against the changes.
Vehicle emissions and government regulators have been a hot topic since it was revealed last September that VW had installed "defeat device" software in millions of vehicles around the world. One of the results of that software was, in the US at least, was NOx emissions 40 times higher than allowed under the law.