Indicator Assessment

Average CO2 emissions from newly registered motor vehicles in Europe

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-457-en
  Also known as: TERM 017
Published 11 Jun 2018 Last modified 11 May 2021
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Despite a small increase in annual average CO2 emissions from passenger cars in 2017, new cars are becoming more efficient. The average car sold in 2017 was almost 16 % more efficient than the average car sold in 2010.

Average annual CO2 emissions from new light commercial vehicles (vans) continued to decrease in 2017. The average van sold in 2017 was 13 % more efficient than one sold in 2012, when Regulation (EU) 510/2011 came in to force. 

The new 'Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure' (WLTP) was introduced in September 2017. It is anticipated that it will decrease the divergence between laboratory test and real world emissions. 

Average carbon dioxide emissions from new passenger cars


In the EU-28, CO2 emissions from the new passenger car fleet increased from 118.1 g to 118.5 g between 2016 and 2017. The new passenger car fleet met the emission target of 130 grams of CO2 per kilometre (g CO2/km), which was set for 2015, two years early, but additional efforts are still required to meet the future target of 95 g CO2/km by 2020.

Sales of new passenger cars in the EU increased by 3 % in 2017 compared with the previous year. A total of 15.1 million new cars were registered, the highest number since 2007. Registrations increased in all EU Member States except Finland, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

For the first year since monitoring began, petrol cars became the most sold vehicles in the EU, constituting almost 53 % of sales. Diesel cars made up 45 % of new registrations. The difference between the average fuel efficiency of petrol cars (121.6 g CO2/km) and diesel cars (117.9 g CO2/km) decreased compared with 2016. The average fuel efficiency of petrol cars has been constant since 2016, whereas the fuel-efficiency of diesel cars has worsened compared with 2016 (116.8 g CO2/km).

Sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and battery-electric vehicles (BEV) continued to increase. The increase was 42 % in 2017. However, the share of these categories in the new fleet remains low (1.5 %). Around 97 000 BEVs were registered in 2017, a 51 % increase compared with 2016, while sales of new PHEVs increased by 35 %. Please see TERM034 for more information. 

The average mass of new passenger cars registered in the EU-28 has returned to 2013 levels. The average mass of new cars sold in the EU (i.e. 1 390 kg) remained broadly the same in 2017 as in 2016. On average, the heaviest cars were sold in Sweden (1 540 kg), Austria and Luxembourg (both 1 502 kg), whereas Maltese, Greek and Danish buyers on average preferred the lightest cars (1 211, 1 243 and 1 279 kg respectively).

Average carbon dioxide emissions from new vans


The average van registered in the EU in 2017 emitted 156.0 g CO2/km, which is 7.7 grams less than in 2016. This reduction brings the EU average emissions 10.9 % below the 2017 target of 175 g CO2/km. The 2017 target was already met in 2013. Further efficiency improvements of 6 % are still needed to reach the EU’s more stringent target of 147 g CO2/km set for 2020.

In 2017, around 1.6 million new vans were registered in the EU than in 2016. The vast majority of the new van fleet constitutes diesel vehicles (96 %). Two out of three new vans (64 %) registered in the EU were sold in just four Member States: the United Kingdom (20 %), France (19 %), Germany (15 %) and Italy (10 %).

The average fuel-efficiency of new vans varied widely across Member States because of the different models and sizes of vehicles sold in each country. Average emissions were lowest in Portugal (133.2 g CO2/km) and Cyprus (133.4 g CO2/km), and highest in the Czech Republic (173.6 g CO2/km) and Slovakia (170.1 g CO2/km).

There is now an increasing number of electric and plug-in hybrid van models available on the EU market. In 2017, registrations of such vehicles increased by 32 %, compared with previous year, representing 0.8 % of total EU van sales. However, this is significantly lower than the figure of 1.5 %, which represents the share of electric and plug-in hybrid passenger cars in total car sales for the same year. Please see TERM034 for more information. 

Supporting information

Indicator definition

Average specific CO2 emissions means the CO2 emissions of passenger cars or light commercial vehicles measured in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 and specified as the CO2 mass emissions (combined) in the certificate of conformity. It includes new motor vehicles registered in the specific year in the EU-28. As of 1 January 2018, data from Iceland are also included and as of January 2019, data from Norway are included.


For new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, tailpipe emissions are expressed in grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre (g CO2/km).


Policy context and targets

Context description

In 1995, the European Commission adopted a Community strategy to reduce CO2 emissions from passenger cars and improve fuel economy. The strategy was based on the following pillars:

  • an agreement with the auto industry on a reduction in the fuel consumption of new cars sold; 
  • the promotion of fuel-efficient cars via fiscal measures; and
  • improved consumer information.

In 1998, a voluntary agreement was reached between the European Commission and the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) to reduce average emissions from new cars sold to 140 g CO2/km by 2008. Voluntary commitments from Japanese and Korean manufacturers set a target of 140 g CO2/km by 2009.

In February 2007, the Commission adopted a Communication on the results of the review of the Community Strategy to reduce CO2 emissions from passenger cars and light-commercial vehicles. It acknowledged that progress went some way towards a target of 140 g CO2/km, but highlighted that the EU objective of 120 g CO2/km would not be met by 2012 in the absence of additional measures. 

Therefore, the European Commission decided to establish CO2 emission performance requirements for new passenger cars in 2009. A similar approach was established for new light commercial vehicles in 2011.

On 19 April 2019, the European Parliament and the Council adopted a regulation that established CO2 emission performance requirements for new passenger cars and new light commercial vehicles (vans) in the European Union post-2020.  


For new passenger cars, Regulation (EU) No 443/2009 sets the average CO2 specific emission target at 130 g CO2/km by 2015. This is defined as the average value for the fleet of newly registered passenger cars in the EU. A target of 95 g CO2/km was set for 2021 (phase-in from 2020).

For new light commercial vehicles, Regulation (EU) No 510/2011 sets the average CO2 emissions target at 175 g CO2/km by 2017. This is defined as the average value for the fleet of newly registered vans in the EU. A medium-term target of 147 g CO2/km was set for 2020.

Related policy documents

    Regulation (ec) no 443/2009 of the European parliament and of the Council setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the community's integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles.
  • Regulation (EC) No 715/2007 on type approval of motor vehicles
    REGULATION (EC) No 715/2007 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 20 June 2007 on type approval of motor vehicles with respect to emissions from light passenger and commercial vehicles (Euro 5 and Euro 6) and on access to vehicle repair and maintenance information
  • REGULATION (EU) No 510/2011
    REGULATION (EU) No 510/2011 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL setting emission performance standards for new light commercial vehicles as part of the Union's integrated approach to reduce CO 2 emissions from light-duty vehicles


Methodology for indicator calculation

Average specific emissions of CO2 are calculated as a weighted average of the Member State's fleet of new registrations in a particular year. 

Methodology for gap filling

No gap filling is foreseen. 

Methodology references

No methodology references available.



Methodology uncertainty

Member States report CO2 emission levels of new vehicles, measured under standardised laboratory conditions and following the requirements of the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) test procedure. Due to growing acceptance that the NEDC test procedure was outdated and did not necessarily represent real-world driving conditions and emissions, in June 2016, the European Commission proposed to adopt the more demanding World Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), a globally harmonised test procedure developed within the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Following recent agreement within the EU, the new WLTP test is now mandatory for all new vehicle types introduced after September 2017 and for all new vehicles from September 2018.

Data sets uncertainty

The EEA performs several quality checks to evaluate the accuracy and quality of the data sets. On the basis of these checks, and feedback from Member States and vehicle manufacturers, the EEA and the European Commission assess the corrections and, where justified, take them into account for the calculation of average CO2 emissions and specific emission targets. The EEA then finalises and publishes the data.

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified.

Data sources

Other info

DPSIR: State
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • TERM 017
Frequency of updates
Updates are scheduled once per year
EEA Contact Info


Geographic coverage

Temporal coverage


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