Members of the European Parliament have rejected pleas from car makers to delay the introduction of stringent carbon dioxide limits.
MEPs voted for compulsory CO2 cuts of around 17% within four years, and 60% within 12 years.
The package, which is still to be formally approved, is part of wider EU efforts to reduce emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020.
The vote went against recommendations from the parliament's industry committee earlier this month.
However, manufacturers have insisted the goals are unrealistic.
European carmakers association (ACEA) secretary general Ivan Hodac said: 'They clearly do not care about the competitiveness and job creation of the European car industry. But this is just one step in the procedure. It is not the end of the story.'