BERLIN (AP) — The Latest on a German court considering a diesel ban in dozens of cities (all times local):

4:40 p.m.

A German court has deferred ruling on whether authorities can ban diesel cars from cities to lower air pollution, a move that could have drastic consequences for the country's powerful auto industry.

The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig began hearing the case Thursday and had been expected to issue a verdict within hours.

But judges said the process had taken longer than expected and set a date of Feb. 27 for a ruling.

The court is hearing an appeal by two German states against lower court rulings that suggested driving bans for particularly dirty diesel cars would be effective and should be seriously considered as a means of protecting public health.

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8:30 a.m.

A German court is considering whether cities should ban diesel cars to lower air pollution, a move that could have drastic consequences for the country's auto industry.

The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig is hearing an appeal Thursday by two German states against lower court rulings that suggested driving bans for particularly dirty diesel cars were effective and should be considered.

A decision could be issued later in the day.

The original court cases were brought by environmental groups who say excessive air pollution levels in dozens of German cities are largely caused by diesel cars. They accuse the government of putting automakers' interests before citizens' health.

German automaker Volkswagen was found three years ago to have used in-car software to cheat on U.S. emissions tests, resulting in large fines.