Germany's transport ministry wants carmakers to update engine management software in up to 12 million diesel vehicles to cut nitrogen oxide emissions. The recall could cost up to 2.5 billion euros.
Lawmakers on Monday increased pressure in closed-door talks with auto industry leaders ahead of national elections in Germany on September 24. The government has demanded that the auto industry cover the costs and wants a solution to be presented before the elections.
The transport ministry is in discussions with German auto industry associations VDA and VDIK as well as representatives from local governments to try and cut nitrogen oxide pollution by about 25 percent, sources told Reuters news agency.
It could cost 1.5 billion to 2.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion to $2.8 billion) to update the cars. The ministry is demanding that vehicles with engines conforming to the euro-4, euro-5 and euro-6 standards be part of the recall, government sources said.
The dangers to public health from diesel fumes became a political issue after revelations in September 2015 that Volkswagen had cheated emissions tests to sell cars that produced excessive pollution.
Germany's top car manufacturers volunteered a recall of 630,000 cars in April 2016 to fix diesel emissions management software but that failed to reassure regulators and policymakers that pollution levels are under control.
Since then several European cities including Stuttgart and Munich have considered banning some diesel vehicles, blaming emissions for causing increased respiratory disease.