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EU says diesel-car price may rise €590 from new caps

The price of diesel cars in the European Union would rise by €590 ($755) a vehicle over the next decade under plans for cleaner air, EU regulators said.

The EU plans new caps on emissions of tailpipe pollutants including particulate matter and nitrogen oxide to reduce deaths from dirty air. Lawmakers are preparing stricter limits that would add €377 to the diesel-car price by 2010 and another €213 by 2015, according to the European Commission. „Reduced emissions from road transport are an important factor to improve air quality in urban areas, particularly because the number of diesel vehicles is increasing,” the commission, the 25-nation EU's regulatory arm, said in a statement yesterday in Brussels.

The new limits would force carmakers to install filters and take other actions. Tighter car-emissions standards are part of a European campaign to reduce early deaths from air pollution by 40% to 230,000 a year as of 2020. The campaign aims to bring health benefits of at least €42 billion a year in 2020 through less sickness and fewer deaths. The plans for stricter tailpipe standards are based on a 2005 commission proposal for a four-fifths cut in particulate-matter emissions from diesel cars by 2010 compared with the current norm and a 20% reduction in nitrogen-oxide releases by these vehicles. The proposal also calls for a 25% drop in nitrogen-oxide and hydrocarbon emissions from gasoline autos by 2010.

The draft rules have been „well received” by the European  Parliament and the EU's national governments, according to the commission, which said both groups of lawmakers also want to fix even stricter targets from 2015. The Parliament, which is seeking a fast-track accord with member states, aims to vote on the legislation at the end of November. The price of diesel cars would rise because carmakers would be forced to install filters for particulate matter, according to the commission. For nitrogen oxide, the auto industry would have to upgrade the fuel-injection process or trap or eliminate nitrogen oxide in the tailpipe, said the commission.

The EU may draft separate legislation to curb carbon dioxide from cars. Last week, EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said voluntary carbon-dioxide targets by manufacturers including Volkswagen AG, Toyota Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co. were inadequate and demanded binding limits. The EU currently relies on agreements with European, Japanese and South Korean automakers to cut carbon-dioxide pollution in Western Europe by 25% in 2008-2009 compared with 1995. Cars account for more than a 10th of the EU's emissions of carbon dioxide, the main gas blamed for global warming. (Bloomberg)