Leaders of the struggling bodyshop industry fear measures to increase the recycling of unwanted vehicles will add billions to their cost burdens.
The European Parliament has endorsed a proposal that could make motor manufacturers responsible for collecting and recycling 8 million tonnes of vehicles disposed of every year. The measure's cost is estimated at £40 billion a year.
The proposal means that up to 85% of a car's parts will have to be reused by 2005 and 95% by 2015. A vehicle's final owner would have to obtain a certificate of destruction proving it has been delivered to a recycling centre.
The European Commission wants to stop potentially toxic compounds in cars, such as mercury and chromium, escaping into the environment.
Alan Bird, Vehicle Builders' and Repairers' Association development manager, is concerned the industry will struggle to absorb the extra costs.
David Wallace, managing director of bodyshop network ABS, believes bodyshops will inevitably become more involved in recycling vehicles than at present.
Wallace said: "If it is adopted, the directive will present manufacturers with an estimated bill of £40bn. If the principle was applied to parts removed from repairable cars the bill could be even higher."
The directive must be adopted by the council of ministers before it becomes law.