'German Provision' May Set Easier Emissions Rules for Low-Volume Manufacturers

Joshua Duval
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The Obama administration is set to propose new legislation that would ease the greenhouse gas emissions laws for low-volume manufacturers--effectively making it easier for luxury car makers to sell their vehicles in the U.S. at a time when the government is trying to reduce emissions.

Referred to as "the German provision" by industry lobbyists, the loophole would set more lenient standards for automobile manufacturers that sell fewer than 400,000 vehicles a year in the U.S--manufacturers like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Subaru, and Suzuki. The law would last for about four years, and would apply to a limited portion of the automakers' lineups. The legislation will likely be introduced later this year by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation.

A government report published this year said the U.S. collected about $76 million in fines from German automakers for violating fuel economy laws. The German companies say the U.S. laws are unfair because they are makers of sports cars and luxury vehicles, and they cannot offset those gas-guzzling vehicles with fuel-efficient models, though they are trying. Mercedes-Benz and BMW have both introduced clean diesel vehicles in efforts to reduce their emissions footprints in the U.S.

A spokesman for GM said the Obama administration's proposal didn't cause as many concerns as a similar California policy because, unlike the California legislation, it exempts only part of the automakers' fleets. The California version also lasts longer--seven years, as opposed to the four proposed here.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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