EU nations back stricter emissions rules for new gasoline engines

An employee stands behind the counter at a Volkswagen service center for the German automaker located in the Sydney suburb of Artarmon, Australia, October 7, 2015. REUTERS/David Gray

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU nations backed measures to strengthen new on-road emissions tests on Tuesday to supplement laboratory-based ones, whose flaws were laid bare by the Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE scandal.

The measures will extend testing to ultrafine particles, which cause thousands of early deaths, EU data shows, emitted from a new generation of gasoline direct injection engines.

The new rules will apply for all new car models by September 2017 and for all new vehicles by September 2018 - although carmakers had called for the rules to be delayed until 2019.

“Car manufacturers should already start designing vehicles with lower particle emissions and introduce the necessary filters in petrol cars that are already widely used for diesel,” Europe’s Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska said in a statement after the measures were approved by EU member state representatives at a regulatory committee meeting.

The Transport & Environment campaign group says cheap technologies such as gasoline particulate filters (GPF) already exist to reduce pollution from GDI engines, which emit as much as 10 times more particles than previous generations of engines.

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has said carmakers were left with too little time to implement new rules.

However, a year after VW admitted to rigging U.S. diesel emissions tests, the European Parliament issued a draft report this week criticizing delays in adopting new tests on car engine emissions, despite evidence that outdated tests had allowed pollution to surge up to five times above legal limits.

The new rules regulate cold engine starts, during which vehicles pollute much more than at other times on the journey, in a bid to reduce pollution from short city trips.

It will also require carmakers to make emissions performance information available to consumers.

Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; editing by Adrian Croft