WASHINGTON - German luxury auto makers including BMW AG and Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz are close to benefiting from a U.S. concession that will allow them and a few other foreign makers to keep selling cars that emit more greenhouse gases than those made by mass-market rivals, according to The Wall Street Journal.

WSJ reports that under a provision of a plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the Obama administration has proposed to set less stringent standards for car makers that sell fewer than 400,000 vehicles a year in the U.S. That target defines the major German brands as well as a few smaller Asian manufacturers such as Suzuki Motor Corp. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

The easier targets are expected to apply to a limited portion of a car maker's sales volume, and last for about four years - unless the government grants an extension.

The rules are expected to be formally proposed later this year by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (USDOT) to enforce the administration's mandate that makers boost the average fuel efficiency of their fleets to 35.5 miles mpg by 2016.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet