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MUNICH (Reuters) - German carmakers BMW, Audi and truck manufacturer MAN (VOWG_p.DE) have agreed with Bavaria to cut pollution from diesel engines, with manufacturers promising to reduce emissions from older models and the state government planning incentives to spur sales of newer, more efficient cars.
With Germany's national elections only three months away, politicians are raising pressure on the powerful car industry to contribute toward improving air quality and win back trust that was pared down by Volkswagen's emissions scandal two years ago.
The steps agreed on Wednesday include a pledge from luxury rivals BMW and Audi to ensure that at least half of their Euro-5 standard diesel car fleets will reach a level of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions that will cut pollution in cities, the Munich-based state government said.
Bavaria wants to table proposals in July for limited purchasing incentives, especially through amended car tax, to get drivers to switch from older Euro-3 and Euro-4 models to more fuel-efficient Euro-6 technology, it said.
Wednesday's moves coincided with a warning by Germany's ADAC car club, Europe's largest and most influential, to push back planned purchases of diesel cars until Euro-6D technology becomes available in new models this autumn.
Sales of diesel cars have been falling since the VW scandal, but have dropped even faster since cities, including Stuttgart and Munich, have considered banning some diesel vehicles, blaming emissions for a rise in respiratory disease.
"We believe there are more intelligent options than driving bans," BMW Chief Executive Harald Krueger said in an emailed statement. "That's why we support the initiative of the Bavarian government for a comprehensive and lasting improvement of air quality in our cities."
The manufacturers have agreed to shoulder the costs for certification and development of the necessary engine management software, the Bavarian government said.
Reporting by Joern Poltz; Writing by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Maria Sheahan