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 13 Aug 2019 Last modified 13 Aug 2020
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The average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new passenger cars registered in the European Union (EU) in 2018 increased for the second consecutive year, reaching 120.4 grams of CO2 per kilometre. 

Despite the recent increase, new cars sold in 2018 were on average 14 % more efficient than those sold in 2010.

Average annual CO2 emissions from new light commercial vehicles (vans) increased in 2018 for the first time since Regulation (EU) 510/2011 came in to force.

Despite the recent increase, the average van sold in 2018 was 12 % more efficient than the one sold in 2012. 

Average carbon dioxide emissions from new passenger cars

By fuel

In the EU-28 and Iceland, CO2 emissions from the new passenger car fleet increased from 118.5 g to 120.4 g between 2017 and 2018. The new passenger car fleet met the 2015 emission target of 130 grams of CO2 per kilometre (g CO2/km) 2 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-28 and Iceland decreased by 3 % in 2018 compared with the previous year. A total of 14.7 million new cars were registered in 2018.

Petrol cars were the most sold passenger vehicles in the EU-28 and Iceland, constituting almost 60 % of all new registrations. Diesel vehicles made up 36 % of new registrations, marking a drop of 9 percentage points from 2017, and 19 percentage points from 2011 when diesel cars peaked with a 55 % share of new registrations. On average, the CO2 emissions of diesel cars (121.5 g CO2/km) are now very close to those of petrol cars (123.4 g CO2/km). The difference of 1.9 g CO2/km was the lowest observed in the past 5 years.

Sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and battery-electric vehicles (BEV) continued to go up with an increase of 50 % in 2018. However, at 2 %, the share of these categories in the new fleet remains low. Please see TERM034 for more information. 

In 2018, the average mass of new passenger cars registered in the EU-28 and Iceland remained the same as in 2017 (i.e. 1 389 kg). On average, the heaviest cars were sold in Sweden (1 552 kg) and Luxembourg (1 516 kg), whereas Maltese and Greek buyers on average purchased the lightest cars (1 233 and 1 251 kg respectively).

Average carbon dioxide emissions from new vans


In 2018, around 1.67 million new vans were registered in the EU-28 and Iceland. Two out of three new vans (70 %) registered in the EU were sold in just four Member States: the United Kingdom (20 %), France (19 %), Germany (15 %), Italy (9 %) and Spain (7 %).

The average van registered in the EU-28 and Iceland in 2018 emitted 158.1 g CO2/km, which is 2.0 grams more than in 2017. Many factors affected the increase in CO2 emissions from new vans in 2018, including an increase in the mass, engine capacity and size of the vehicles. Further efficiency improvements of 7 % are still needed to reach the EU’s more stringent target of 147 g CO2/km set for 2020.

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 (133.7 g CO2/km), Bulgaria (134.4 g CO2/km) and Cyprus (135.1 g CO2/km), and highest in Germany (173.4 g CO2/km), Czechia (170.0 g CO2/km) and Slovakia (169.7 g CO2/km).

The average weight of new vans registered in 2018 was 1 839 kg, which is a slight increase of 1 % if compared with 2017. It also varied across countries: smaller vehicles were sold in Bulgaria and Cyprus (< 1 590 kg); larger vehicles (> 1 955 kg) in Slovakia (the heaviest), Finland and Czechia.

The vast majority of the new van fleet constitutes diesel vehicles (94.7 %), however, the market share of petrol vehicles increased from 2.4 % in 2017 to 3.6 % in 2018. The share of zero- and low-emission vans remained at the same level (1.7 % of EU new van registrations) as in 2017. 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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