Proportion of the vehicle fleet meeting certain emission standards (by mode)
Assessment made on 01 Sep 2006
ClassificationTransport (Primary theme)
DPSIR: Driving force
- TERM 034
Policy issue: Increase the share of the vehicle fleet that meets the most recent (and stringent) emission standards for new vehicles
Estimates based on the share of vehicles complying with the various legislation classes suggest that it takes at least 10 years for a new technology to penetrate the vehicle fleet in the EU15 but that this penetration is slightly quicker for diesel than for petrol cars. The proportion of trucks, buses, coaches and aircrafts that comply with the latest and most stringent emission standards is lower than for cars, because of their longer lifetimes. On the other hand, the penetration of new technology is highest for two-wheelers, because of their shorter lifetime.
A factor that has limited the benefits of new technologies is the slow market penetration of these technologies; the average age of passenger cars in the EU has increased (see TERM 33 - Average age of the vehicle fleet). This development can be partly explained by the fact that new cars are bought, but old cars are kept. Indeed, the number of cars per household has increased (see TERM 32 - Size and composition of the vehicle fleet), confirming that new technologies need a long time to penetrate fully. Moreover, new models may be of better quality and therefore have a longer lifetime than less recent vehicles.
One proxy-indicator that can be used to show the rate of penetration of new technologies is the share of passenger cars fitted with catalytic converters. For passenger cars, it has taken more than 10 years to reach a 72 % penetration of this new technology.
However, this indicator alone is not sufficient for a complete assessment of the environmental benefits gained by the penetration of any new technology. In order to have a better overview of the environmental performance of the vehicle fleet, the annual share of kilometres driven by vehicles with older technology needs to be known. There are strong indications that older vehicles are generally used less than newer ones, which means that the emissions reductions achieved are higher than the above indicator may suggest. Due to data limitations concerning the vehicle-kilometres allocated to the various technology classes, an assessment of how much older technology is being used can not be realised.
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This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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