BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- European Union lawmakers were split Thursday on how soon car makers should be forced to follow new rules curbing how much carbon dioxide new vehicles emit.
Worried that CO2 emissions from road transport are rising, the European Union is planning to set goals for car makers that may fine them if they don't sell enough cleaner low-carbon models.
Automakers complain that tight environmental regulation could hurt jobs and hit their businesses hard. They are calling for more time to adapt to a target that each company's cars should emit no more than 130 grams of CO2 per kilometer.
The European Parliament appears divided on how much time the companies need after its environment committee voted Thursday for a 2012 start date, weeks after its industry committee chose 2015. Lawmakers are expected to decide next month.
EU governments also need to approve the new rules. France and Germany want to exclude heavier vehicles from the strictest limits until 2015.
Under pressure from the powerful German car lobby -- led by car makers Volkswagen AG, BMW AG and and Daimler AG's Mercedes -- Berlin has demanded more time and softer targets for its automobile industry, which makes vehicles that tend to be faster, bigger, heavier and more polluting than those of other EU nations.
The EU's proposal is a result of last year's ambitious pledge by European Union leaders to cut the EU's greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 -- or cut them by 30 percent if the United States, Japan and others join Europe in a global international emissions trading scheme.