New cars and vans sold in 2018 more CO2 intensive, final data confirms

News Published 03 Jun 2020 Last modified 03 Jun 2020
3 min read
Photo: © chuttersnap on Unsplash
Average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new cars registered in the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom (UK) and Iceland increased in 2018 for the second year in a row, according to final data published today by the European Environment Agency (EEA). For the first time, average CO2 emissions from new vans also increased in 2018. More efforts are needed from manufacturers to reduce vehicle CO2 emissions.

According to the EEA report ‘Monitoring CO2 emissions from passenger cars and vans in 2018’, emissions from new cars registered in the EU, the UK and Iceland in 2018 increased mainly due to the growing share of petrol cars in new registrations, in particular in the sport utility vehicle (SUV) segment, and the limited market uptake of zero‐ and low‐emission vehicles, including electric cars. The 2018 data on new registrations can be explored through a new EEA data dashboard.

After a steady decline from 2010 to 2016, by almost 22 g CO2/km, average emissions from new cars increased by 0.4 g CO2/km in 2017 and by 2.3 g CO2/km in 2018 to reach 120.8 g CO2/km. While this is 7 % below the 2018 target of 130 g CO2/km, a considerable 27 % gap must still be filled to reach the target of 95 g CO2/km that applies from 2020 on.

Similarly, average emissions of new vans had decreased by 24 g CO2/km between 2012 and 2017, but increased from 156.1 g CO2/km in 2017 to 157.9 g CO2/km in 2018. While this is 10 % below the 2018 target of 175 g CO2/km, average emissions were still 7 % above the 2020 target.

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. The market share of petrol vans increased but remained limited, constituting 3.6 % of the new fleet (2.4% in 2017). The share of zero- and low-emission vans remained stable, at 1.7 % of the fleet. 

Only one car manufacturer missed its 2018 emission targets

All manufacturers, except one, met their specific CO2 emission targets in 2018 but were still far away from their 2020 targets. Automobili Lamborghini SPA exceeded its specific emission targets for 2018 and is therefore required to pay excess emission premiums. Amongst the large manufacturers, Toyota is the closest to reaching its future targets, with an estimated distance to the 2020 target of around 5 g CO2/km, while Mazda Corporations the furthest, with a distance to 2020 target of 39 g CO2/km.

All van manufacturers met their specific CO2 emission targets in 2018, taking into account pools and derogations. Some of the largest van makers, including Automobile Peugeot, Automobile Citroën, Ford‐Werke GmbH and Iveco, have already achieved average specific CO2 emissions below their 2020 target level. Other manufacturers, including Nissan International, Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Europe, are also very close to their 2020 targets.

Electric vehicles and smaller engines to improve manufacturers’ performance

Since 2010, the officially reported average CO2 emissions of new passenger cars have decreased substantially. These reductions can be attributed to both the overall improvement of car energy efficiency, as well as a change in the mix of car models sold, towards more efficient powertrains and technologies. Engine downsizing and the uptake of electric vehicles have had a positive effect on reducing CO2 emissions but the growing share of SUVs has systematically led to an increase in emissions. The ‘de-dieselisation’ of the fleet has increased average emissions but its overall effect on each car manufacturer’s performance depends on the fleet characteristic of the manufacturer.

Testing vehicle emissions

The emissions of new vehicles are systematically tested using ‘type approval’ procedures. Since 2017, the new Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) has been put in place, gradually replacing the outdated New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). The WLTP allows to obtain more realistic information on vehicle emissions in the type approval tests. In 2018, Member States reported both NEDC and WLTP emission factors for around 4.4 million cars (around 30 % of new registrations). For those vehicles, the WLTP emission factor was on average 20 % higher than the NEDC emission factor.

EEA activities

The EEA collects and regularly makes available data on new passenger cars and new vans registered in Europe, in accordance with Regulation (EU) 631/2019. The data reported by all EU Member States, the UK and Iceland in order to evaluate the efficiency of the new vehicle fleet includes information on CO2 emissions and vehicle mass. The data reported by Iceland were included for the first time.

In 2020, the EEA will collect, also for the first time, data on CO2 emissions from heavy duty vehicles (trucks). These will be published in 2021.


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