Faced with a type approval testing backlog because of the coronavirus pandemic, auto makers are asking the European Union for more time to clear inventories of cars that will not comply with upcoming pollutant emissions laws.
In his role as president of the industry group ACEA, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Mike Manley wrote to EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton to request a six-month delay on behalf of his group's members.
"While we accept that pollutant emissions are a sensitive political matter, we would like to emphasize that the proposed postponement will have no impact whatsoever on the emission level of the vehicles concerned or on air quality, " Manley said in a letter. "In many cases, it will just mean vehicles will not be equipped with a fuel consumption meter."
Manley said about 600,000 passenger cars already built would not meet the Euro 6d ISC-FCM norm that takes effect on Jan. 1.
Attempts to clear this inventory amid the coronavirus pandemic are impeded by the "grim reality" that many auto makers have not even been able to certify their vehicles for sale due to disruption in the approval process, Manley said.
He estimated that 2,100 emissions system type approvals were still pending for vehicles that already meet Euro 6d ISC-FCM, which include important new requirements pertaining to In-Service Conformity and Fuel Consumption Monitoring.
In the letter, Manley said auto makers need to obtain legal certainty rapidly. He warned that there likely would be consequences to industry jobs if Brussels did not grant their request.
"Without postponement of the application dates, manufacturers will face a choice between stockpiling newly produced vehicles until the type approval process is completed and not restarting production of the vehicles concerned. It is clear the second option will have negative implications for workers, both at vehicle manufacturers and at suppliers."
Manley said that Beijing already has postponed the entry into force of a new China 6 tailpipe emissions requirement to reduce particulates by six months for this very reason.
Additionally, Japan delayed the switch from its JC-08 testing cycle for existing models to WLTP by three months.
Manley said the request was therefore an "objectively justified, proportionate and pragmatic response to an unfortunate situation which the European automobile industry finds itself in for reasons beyond its control."
Euro 6 regulations limit the amount of pollutants emitted by cars on the road such as nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, fine particulates and hydrocarbons, which pose health risks when inhaled.
This differs from CO2 emissions, which are blamed for global warning. The EU aims to cut CO2 emissions from Europe's new-car fleet as part of its obligation under the Paris climate accords.
An ACEA spokesperson said the association has not made a request to delay the EU's 95 gram per km CO2 fleet emissions target that is being phased in this year and takes full effect next year.