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Proportion of vehicle fleet meeting certain emission standards (TERM 034) - Assessment published Jan 2011

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Generic metadata


Transport Transport (Primary topic)

transport indicators | transport
DPSIR: Driving force
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • TERM 034
Temporal coverage:
1995, 2009
Geographic coverage:
Austria Belgium Bulgaria Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Finland France Germany Greece Hungary Ireland Italy Latvia Lithuania Luxembourg Malta Netherlands Norway Poland Portugal Romania Slovakia Slovenia Spain Sweden Switzerland Turkey United Kingdom

Key policy question: Is the environmental performance of the vehicle fleet improving?

Key messages

  • 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.
  • Based on the activity level of the latest technologies, which is generally higher compared to the activity level of older vehicles, the emissions reductions achieved by the entire fleet are higher than the technology share may suggest.

TERM34 Estimated share of pre Euro/conventional and Euro I-V gasoline and diesel passenger cars and light-duty vehicles

Note: TREMOVE results refer to 30 EEA member countries (that is EU-27 plus Norway, Switzerland and Turkey).

Data source:

Vehicle category split in technology classes, 1995-2008 from TREMOVE v3.1

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Allocation of heavy-duty vehicles and two-wheelers to the various emission standards

Note: The graph shows the estimated share of pre Euro/conventional and Euro I-V heavy-duty trucks, buses and coaches and conventional and 97/24/EC mopeds and motorcycles in 30 EEA member countries, in 1995 and 2009.

Data source:

Vehicle stock data for road transport are modelled data derived from TREMOVE (

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Key assessment

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 2009 (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 3.5 %, which is lower than their share in the total passenger car fleet (5.7 %).

Passenger cars, and especially diesel cars , have the highest penetration of the latest emission standards as shown in Figure 1. In 2009, 6.4 % and 10.2 % of all petrol and diesel cars respectively were Euro 5 compliant, while the share of Euro 4 compliant vehicles was 18.5 % and 29 % respectively. This is due to the fact that the diesel car market is continuously expanding (due to the better fuel efficiency of diesel vehicles). More than 63% of passenger cars new registrations in 2009 were diesel vehicles.

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 2009 was 7.1 %, 9.2 % and 15.9 % for petrol LDV, diesel LDV and HDV respectively, while a significant percentage (20.8 %, 26.5 % and 29.4 % respectively) are Euro III vehicles. The penetration of Euro V petrol LDV, diesel LDV and HDV in 2009 is still rather low, accounting for 4 %, 5 % and 0.1 % respectively.
The same picture may also be observed for the buses and coaches. Approximately 24.3 % and 21.8 % of the buses and coaches complied with the Euro III and IV standards respectively in 2009. As regards mopeds and motorcycles, 20.2 % and 19.6 % respectively comply with the Euro III emission limits, while 41.8 % and 51.9 % respectively are still of conventional technology.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Cinzia Pastorello


EEA Management Plan

2009 2.9.2 (note: EEA internal system)


Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year in October-December (Q4)


European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100