New cars meet CO2 target two years ahead of the deadline

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News Published 30 Apr 2014 Last modified 21 Jun 2016
2 min read
Photo: © Icarus47
Cars sold in 2013 were 4 % more efficient than the year before, according to provisional data. Average carbon dioxide emissions per kilometre have continued to fall, so in 2013 the European Union fleet already collectively met its legal target for 2015.

The average car sold last year was almost 10 % more efficient than the average car sold in 2010, when monitoring started. 

Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director

The average CO2 emissions level of a new car sold in 2013 was 127 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre, significantly below the 2015 target of 130g, according to provisional data  from the European Environment Agency (EEA). However, manufacturers will have to keep reducing emissions levels to meet the target of 95g CO2/km by 2021.

"The average car sold last year was almost 10 % more efficient than the average car sold in 2010, when monitoring started," EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx said. "This is good news. But passenger transport still generates a significant part of total greenhouse gas emissions of the EU, so we need to think about more sustainable transport systems – the car cannot solve all our problems in the 21st Century."

Key findings

  • Notably, new cars have become more efficient despite an increase in the average mass. The main drivers of efficiency have been technological improvements and higher sales of diesel cars, which typically have lower emissions levels than petrol equivalents. However, the preference for diesel seems to be falling, making up just over half the cars sold in 2013.
  • The efficiency gap between new petrol and diesel vehicles has been decreasing in recent years. Compared to the current levels the average emissions gap between petrol and diesel was more than 10 times higher in 2000.
  • There were 11.8 million new cars registered in the EU in 2013. This figure has declined continuously since its peak in 2007, when 15.5 million vehicles were registered.
  • There were 24 000 electric vehicles registered in 2013, which is a small fraction of the fleet but which represents a 71 % increase on 2012 numbers. Around 31 000 plug-in hybrid cars were registered in 2013.
  • On average, the most efficient cars were bought in the Netherlands (109g CO2/km), Greece (111g) and Portugal (112g) while the country selling the least efficient cars was Latvia (147g) followed by Estonia (147g) and Bulgaria (142g). The biggest cars, measured by mass, were bought in Latvia, Sweden and Luxembourg. People in Malta, Denmark and Greece bought the lightest models on average.
  • There seem to be two distinct markets in Europe, with older EU Member States buying significantly more efficient models compared to newer members.

Type approval test procedure

Countries report CO2 emission levels, which are determined using a standardised driving cycle. While it should make measurements comparable between manufacturers, it does not necessarily represent real-world driving conditions.

Next steps

While the collective target has been met, it has not yet been confirmed whether each individual manufacturer has met its own target, which is based on the average mass of the cars they sell. The EEA will publish final data on manufacturers’ individual performance in the autumn.


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