Carbon efficiency of new cars is increasing

News Published 29 Jun 2011 Last modified 21 Jun 2016
3 min read
Preliminary data published today by the European Environment Agency (EEA) show that new passenger cars registered in the European Union (EU) in 2010 are emitting 3.7 % less CO2 per kilometre travelled than new cars from 2009. A new data viewer with confirmed data will be available in October allowing consumers to compare the carbon efficiency of cars from different manufacturers.

The transport sector is the second largest source of CO2 emissions in the EU. Road transport alone accounted for about one fifth of total EU CO2 emissions in 2009 and its  emissions increased by 23% between 1990 and 2009.

In 2009, the EU adopted targets for average CO2 emissions of new passenger cars as part of its strategy to reduce emissions from transport. The legislation sets target values of 130 grams CO2 per kilometre [gCO2/km] to be met by 2015 and of 95 gCO2/km by 2020. These target values will be phased in gradually.

Detailed data submitted by EU Member States under this legislation is made available today in a public EEA database.

An analysis of the data shows that:

  • The average CO2 emissions of a new passenger car in the EU27 were 140.3 gCO2/km in 2010. An average new passenger car emitted 5.4 gCO2/km, or 3.7% less than in 2009 when average emissions were145.7 gCO2/km.
  • The difference between average CO2 emissions of new diesel and new gasoline vehicles is 3.3 gCO2/km. This gap is considerably lower than a decade ago, when the difference was 17 gCO2/km.
  • Vehicle registrations decreased by 2.3 million in 2010 compared to 2007, considered to be the last year before the economic recession. The majority (95%) of the registration took place in the EU-15, where a new passenger car emits 7.9 gCO2/km less than a new car registered in the EU-12.
  • Alternative fuel vehicles (AFV) can be tracked in more detail. In 2010, approximately 13000 flex fuel vehicles (vehicles working with several types of fuel such as ethanol and gasoline) and 700 electric vehicles were registered in the EU.
  • The dieselisation of the fleet continued in 2010. The share of alternative fuel vehicles did not vary significantly compared to the previous year.

Graph: Evolution of CO2 emissions from new passenger cars by fuel (EU27)

Fuel based emissions

AFV: alternative fuel vehicles; gCO2/km: grams CO2 per kilometre.


What next?

Manufacturers may notify the European Commission of any errors in the data reported by EU Member States. Confirmed data will be published by the European Commission and the EEA by 31 October 2011. The EEA will develop a data viewer, simplifying access to and analysis of the data.

In May 2012, the EEA will publish the annual EU greenhouse gas inventory including verified CO2 emissions from the transport sector in 2010.

In addition, the EEA is presently preparing for the reporting of CO2 emissions of light commercial vehicles (vans). The EEA expects the knowledge base on the vehicle fleet to improve over the next years with further legislation under consideration for emissions of other vehicle classes.

Calculating targets for manufacturers

As the data on 2010 CO2 emissions from new passenger cars are provisional, they cannot yet be used for calculating the overall target for manufacturers under the Regulation on emission performance standards for new passenger cars (Regulation (EC) No 443/2009). Credits for low emitting vehicles and phase-in adjustments will be included at a later stage.