July 26, 2016 11:45 AM, EDT

Mexico to Enact Stricter Truck Emissions Rule

David Maung/Bloomberg News

MEXICO CITY — A significantly tougher rule governing heavy-duty truck emissions in Mexico will take effect in 2020, earlier than the truck industry had wanted, a top government official said July 22.

After years of heated debate between truck makers and environmental activists, new heavy-duty vehicles will have to meet emissions standards used by the United States and European Union, known as Euro VI, in 2020, Mexico's undersecretary for Environmental Policy and Planning, Rodolfo Lacy Tamayo, said in an interview.

New heavy-duty trucks will have to meet a lower emissions standard known as Euro V from July 1, 2018, six months later than the date proposed in 2014.

Mexico's truck industry had pushed for a three- to four-year gap between implementation of Euro V and Euro VI.

The changes pit truck makers, who argue that new standards will push up prices for consumers, against environmental activists who say that stricter regulations should be implemented even sooner to improve dismal air quality.   

Mexico currently uses a weaker standard known as Euro IV, which has led to higher ozone concentration levels throughout the country. In March, extreme air pollution in the capital of Mexico City led the municipal government to declare an environmental emergency.

Lacy said the implementation date would coincide with greater availability of cleaner ultra-low-sulfur fuel in the country.

Lacy also said the government would not offer subsidies to consumers who purchase new vehicles.

"It is not the responsibility of the state to maintain every market in the automotive industry," he said.   

The details of the new regulation will be officially published in mid-August, he said.