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EU introduces 'more reliable' car emissions tests

The European Union has rolled out new on-road emissions testing which is intended to be "more reliable" than current lab tests and aims to focus specifically on diesel car emissions after VW's dieselgate scandal.

The European Commission announced on Thursday that new car models would have to pass tougher on-road emissions tests from September 1 that ensure "more reliable results and help to rebuild confidence in the performance of new cars."

As the EU's executive arm strives to prevent a repeat of Volkswagen's diesel emissions scandal, also known as "VW Dieselgate," the new rules are designed to reflect everyday driving conditions. Called Real Driving Emissions (RDE), the process seeks to narrow apparent disparities between road and laboratory test results.

In a statement, EU Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen described the new tests as a "milestone" on the road toward cleaner and more sustainable cars. "The emissions scandal has shown that we need more independence in car testing, stronger market surveillance and the possibility for the Commission to intervene in case of wrongdoing," he said.

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VW's admission in September 2015 that it used illegal software to cheat US diesel emission tests has highlighted the laxness of the EU's car testing system and prompted calls for reform. EU research shows inadequate testing has led to on-road emissions of toxic nitrogen oxides as high as 15 times the regulatory limit.

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Until now only laboratory tests have been used as the benchmark for assessing vehicle emissions. As a result, carmakers have employed a variety of strategies - such as taping up doors and windows - to produce better results than ever possible on a real road.

According to the news agency Reuters, European carmakers had lobbied EU lawmakers to delay the new rules by three years. Now, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) - whose members include BMW, Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler - said in a statement on Thursday the more stringent rules "provide a more accurate basis for measuring a vehicle's fuel consumption and emissions."

The tests are mandatory for all new car models from September 1, and will be phased in between 2018 and 2019. In additional steps, the European Commission is also seeking an overhaul of how new car models are approved by member states and broader supervisory powers, including the ability to impose fines on carmakers, in order to better police the industry.

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uhe/tr (Reuters, dpa)

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