The European Commission is scaling back plans for tougher emissions legislation in Europe.
Elzbieta Bienkowska, the European Commissioner for industrial policy, has put forward proposals to dilute the plan to start testing real-world NOx emissions under the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedures (WLTP).
The plan is meant to come into force in September 2017, replacing the current New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) tests which have been widely criticised in the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal.
Testing has shown that, in places, emissions discharges in real-world conditions are up to 500% higher than under laboratory conditions.
Bienkowska’s proposals would allow real-world NOx emissions to exceed limits by as much as 110% until January 2020. Earlier proposals allowed for a 60% overshoot until autumn 2019.
Cars would also be allowed to exceed EU limits - set to be 80g/km in 2020 - by up to 50% permanently. That means the actual real-world limit will be 120g/km in the EU, a target which is more achievable for the majority of car makers.
The EU’s Technical Committee for Motor Vehicles (TCMV) has already endorsed the revised legislation, but some politicians have labelled the proposal as “scandalous and cynical.”
Some have also been critical of the continued political clout held by vehicle manufacturers, with UK MEP Catherine Bearder saying: “This is a shameful stitch-up which once again puts the interests of car makers ahead of people’s health.”
In a statement, Bienkowska said: “The EU is the first and only region in the world to mandate these robust testing methods.
“And this is not the end of the story. We are working hard to present a proposal to strengthen the type-approval system and reinforce the independence of vehicle testing.”
The modified legislation still has to pass a vote by the European Parliament before it is mandated.
The pressure to significantly modify European testing procedures for NOx emissions has mounted in recent weeks in the wake of VW’s emissions scandal.
The scandal has shone a light on the fact that the majority of manufacturers struggle to meet current emissions limits with Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), telling MPs recently, “The [current] test cycle dates back to the early 1980s and the industry recognises it isn't fit for purpose.”