Average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of new cars dropped by 12% in 2020 compared to the year before, according to final figures published today by the European Environment Agency. The main reason for the sharp decrease of emissions was a surge in the share of electric vehicle registrations

The share of electric vehicle registrations tripled from 3.5% in 2019 to 11.6% in 2020 (including 6.2% full electric vehicles and 5.4% plug-in hybrid electric vehicles). Despite the shrinking overall market for new cars due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the total number of new electric cars registered in 2020 increased to over 1 million.

About 1.4 million new vans were registered in Europe in 2020 with average emissions 1.9 % lower than in 2019. The share of electric vans increased from 1.4% in 2019 to 2.3% in 2020.

The final data are available through the EEA’s data viewer on CO2 emissions of new cars and new vans.

About testing vehicle emissions

The CO2 emissions of new light-duty vehicles are tested according to the ‘type approval’ procedures. Since 2017, the more realistic Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) is in place, gradually replacing the outdated New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).

EEA activities

The EEA collects and regularly makes available data on new passenger cars and vans registered in Europe, in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2019/631. The data, including information on CO2 emissions and vehicle mass, are reported by all EU Member States, the United Kingdom (until 2020), Iceland (since 1 January 2018) and Norway (since 1 January 2019) in order to evaluate the CO2 emission performance of the new vehicle fleet.

Compliance with targets

The European Commission will confirm whether individual manufacturers or pools have met their own specific annual targets, which are based on the average mass of the vehicles registered.

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