Proportion of vehicle fleet meeting certain emission standards (TERM 034) - Assessment published Sep 2010
Transport (Primary topic)
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
- TERM 034
Key policy question: Is the environmental performance of the vehicle fleet improving?
- Estimates based on the share of vehicles complying with the various legislation classes suggest that despite the strict emission limits imposed for new vehicles in Europe, a considerable fraction of the vehicle fleet is still of conventional (pre-Euro) technology.
- The period of time needed for a new technology to penetrate the vehicle fleet in the EEA is quicker for diesel than for petrol cars.
- The proportion of trucks, buses and coaches 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.
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 EEA has decreased slightly from 1995 to 2008 (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 15 years to reach a 92 % penetration of this 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. Older vehicles are generally used less than newer ones, which means that the emissions reductions achieved are higher than the above indicator may suggest. In the case of passenger cars, the vehicle-kilometres allocated to non-catalyst cars is about 5 %, which is lower than their share in the total passenger car fleet (8 %).
Passenger cars, and especially diesel cars, have the highest penetration of the latest emission standards as shown in Figure 1. In 2008, 18.5 % and 31.2 % of all petrol and diesel cars respectively were Euro 4 compliant, while the share of Euro 3 compliant vehicles was 32.5 % and 41.2 % respectively.
For light (LDV) and heavy-duty (HDV) vehicles, the situation is completely different. The average life of a truck is longer than that of a passenger car. Thus the share of trucks complying with the most stringent emission standards and the corresponding rate of penetration of new technologies is relatively low. While in 1995 about 95 % of all LDV and HDV were of conventional technology, the share of vehicles complying with the Euro IV standards by 2008 was 7.2 %, 9.3 % and 10.8 % for petrol LDV, diesel LDV and HDV respectively, while a significant percentage (21.0 %, 26.9 % and 30.1 % respectively) are Euro III vehicles.
The same picture may also be observed for the buses and coaches. Approximately 24.5 % and 15.7 % of the buses and coaches complied with the Euro III and IV standards respectively in 2008. As regards mopeds and motorcycles, 15.3 % and 14.7 % respectively comply with the Euro III emission limits, while 44.6 % and 55.2 % respectively are still of conventional technology.
Estimated share of various technology classes for road vehicles
provided by Directorate-General for Environment (DG ENV)
More information about this indicator
See this indicator specification for more details.
Contacts and ownership
EEA Contact InfoCinzia Pastorello
EEA Management Plan2009 2.10.2 (note: EEA internal system)
Frequency of updates
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
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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