BRUSSELS (Reuters) -- European carmakers are lobbying for a three-year delay to new rules that would reduce the fuel-saving claims they can make for their vehicles, according to an industry paper seen by Reuters.
The European Commission wants to tighten vehicle testing to close loopholes such as driving on an unrealistically smooth surface and taping up car doors and windows.
It wants to introduce the tougher standards by September 2017, but a position paper from the European car industry group ACEA says it "cannot envisage vehicle testing beginning before 1 January 2020."
ACEA's paper says a further year's delay might be needed because of the time required for all manufacturers to have newly-registered vehicles tested under the new rules.
Commission research published in 2013 showed lab techniques explained around a third of a recorded drop in average EU emissions from passenger cars of planet-warming CO2, linked to reduced fuel consumption.
ACEA said it was "actively contributing" to the development of the more stringent rules and was committed to introducing them as soon as it is feasible. "When considering all the issues that have to be addressed in finalising the work, it becomes clear that unrealistic deadlines for implementing WLTP (real-world testing) simply cannot be rushed into," ACEA said in an emailed statement.
A meeting of EU member state representatives and the Commission on Thursday will decide which techniques carmakers will be allowed to use when testing their vehicles as well as the date of introduction of the new rules.
"We all know by now that pumped-up fuel economy figures are the direct result of carmakers gaming the lab tests. EU governments have the opportunity this Thursday to stop this cheating as from 2017," said Greg Archer, clean vehicles manager of sustainable transport group Transport & Environment.
The industry has already won a concession after Germany, home to Europe's biggest automakers, led a campaign to delay by a year the Commission proposal to introduce an emissions limit of 95 grams of carbon dioxide per km from 2020.
Average CO2 emissions from new cars sold in the European Union fell 2.6 percent last year to 123.4 g/km, beating goals of 130g/km set for 2015, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said last month.