LUXEMBOURG -- The European Union's industrial policy chief urged an acceleration of work on tougher EU emissions tests for new vehicles despite reported objections from Germany.
Germany is leading a group of nations arguing that a timetable to introduce real-driving emission tests is too strict for the car industry, according to an EU official familiar with the matter.
The European Commission aims to introduce a road-testing component for vehicle-type approval within two years because of evidence that real-driving emissions are higher than discharges in laboratories. Currently EU tests are only conducted in laboratories.
The new inspection regime will gauge emissions of nitrogen oxides under real driving conditions as well as in laboratories starting in September 2017.
The commission also intends to phase in over two further years enforcement of the current legal limit of 80 milligrams a kilometer, according to the official.
Between September 2017 and September 2019, real-driving emissions would be allowed to exceed permissible discharges in laboratories by as much as 60 percent, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
In EU jargon, the "conformity factor" in this period would be 1.6 instead of 1.0. That's because the commission believes it is unrealistic to demand that real-driving emissions, which are at least 400 percent to 500 percent higher than discharges in laboratories, fully comply with the 80-milligram-a-kilometer limit starting in September 2017, said the official.
Germany, along with include Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, want a longer phase-in of the 80 milligram-a-kilometer limit for real-driving emissions, said the official.
European Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska urged a quick action to address weaknesses in the EU's regulatory system that has emissions-testing loopholes and that divides authority between EU and national bodies.
"We must act," Bienkowska told the European Parliament on Tuesday in Strasbourg, France. "We need to do it as quickly as possible to restore consumer confidence because I think this is the real damage."
Bienkowska's comments came after Volkswagen admitted fitting diesel engines with software to cheat U.S. checks on nitrogen oxides emissions.
Tougher testing to avoid a repetition of the VW deception is potentially politically and economically explosive in Europe because more than half the cars in the region are powered by diesel. German and French automakers have invested heavily in diesel technology.
With up to 11 million Volkswagen vehicles rigged, including 8 million in the EU, authorities in Europe are still trying to determine the extent of any legal violations across the bloc.
"We must start by establishing the facts," said Bienkowska, who is in charge of responding to the scandal at the commission, the 28-nation EU's executive arm. "We need to have clarified as soon as possible the extent of the fraud."
The commission aims for EU governments to vote on its proposal by the end of October. A weighted majority of EU governments is needed for any testing proposal to be approved.
Representatives of EU governments grouped in the EU's Technical Committee on Motor Vehicles discussed the commission's proposal on Tuesday in Brussels, according to the official.
Bloomberg contributed to this report