FRANKFURT -- Japanese automaker Toyota wants a seat at the table when it comes to discussing future exhaust-emission standards in Europe.
Toyota was excluded from talks between ACEA, the European car manufacturers association, and the European Commission over Euro 5 emission laws due in 2010.
The Euro 5 standard may force car manufacturers to reduce emissions from diesel cars by 50 percent.
"Despite the fact that we produce about 600,000 cars in Europe, the Japanese car makers are not considered European producers by ACEA," said Jim Rosenstein, vice president communications at Toyota Motor Europe.
The stakes are high. Modern common-rail diesel technology has spurred acceptance by European car buyers. Diesel penetration in western Europe has soared to 40.3 percent of all cars last year from 13.8 percent in 1990.
A new JD Power-LMC study estimates diesel engines will capture 28 percent of world passenger vehicle sales by 2015.
The German car industry's late acceptance and promotion of diesel particulate-filter technology surprised and upset Toyota. The company says most German-backed techniques are focused only on reducing particulates for Euro 4 standards taking effect in 2005 and ignore nitrogen oxide, or NOx, emissions.
Toyota has developed D-cat technology that reduces both particulate and NOx emissions.
"Everybody talks about particulates but NOx is overlooked," said Gerald Killman, general manager powertrain engineering at Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing Europe. "But NOx in combination with hydrocarbons produces ozone. In Europe, 15 percent of the population is suffering from sight and aspirate problems because of that."
Some industry sources said Toyota actually wants to discourage use of diesel because of its emphasis on hybrid powertrains. Toyota denied that.
"We are committed to diesels, and will even come up with diesel-powered hybrid systems," Rosenstein said.
Rosenstein warned against short-term solutions.
"Euro 5 legislation may kill the diesel, if no initiatives are taken on NOx emissions," Rosenstein said.
He added, "At the moment, we are probably the only carmaker who could meet eventual Euro 5 standards."