FRANKFURT (Reuters) -- Changes to European emissions tests in the wake of the cheating scandal at Volkswagen Group should not be rushed and overly tough, otherwise diesel vehicles will become so expensive that automakers have to stop selling them, industry association ACEA said.
"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 in a statement.
"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," the statement said.
Diesel vehicles have been encouraged in some European markets because they can produce less carbon dioxide -- a major greenhouse gas -- than gasoline 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 carmakers to agree to faster, deeper diesel emissions cuts, counting on public anger after Volkswagen admitted cheating in U.S. emissions tests.
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.
"The automobile industry agrees with the need for emissions to more closely reflect real-world conditions, and has been calling for proposals for years," ACEA said. "However, it is important to proceed in a way which allows manufacturers to plan and implement the necessary changes, without jeopardizing the role of diesel as one of the key pillars for fulfilling future CO2 targets."
Real-world NOx testing is due to begin early next year, with its results coming into play in late 2017.