Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have voted against the EC's proposals for an average new-car emissions limit of 120g/km by 2012.
Instead, they have backed a report which calls for a higher limit of 125g/km by the later timescale of 2015.
The report was written by a high-level group whose members include Commissioners, automotive CEOs and representatives of trade unions.
Despite the vote, a decision on EU vehicle emission levels is far from decided and it is likely to be a long time before any final target is set.
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