New vans sold in Europe are increasingly more fuel-efficient

News Published 13 May 2015 Last modified 21 Jun 2016
2 min read
Photo: © Highways England
The average van sold in the European Union in 2014 was around 2.4% more fuel-efficient than those sold in 2013, according to preliminary data from the European Environment Agency (EEA). Fuel efficiency has continued to improve and new vans now emit almost 6 grams of CO2/km below the 2017 target.

Around 1.4 million new vans were registered in the European Union in 2014, with average emissions of 169.2 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometre, 4 g CO2/km less than those sold in 2013. This is significantly below the 2017 target of 175 g CO2/km, which was already reached in 2013, four years ahead of schedule.

The data is published by the European Environment Agency (EEA), which started monitoring the emissions of light commercial vehicles in 2012. Final data will be published in the autumn after van manufacturers verify this preliminary data.

Key findings: 

  • The EU market for vans grew by 18% in 2014. Registrations increased in all EU Member States compared to 2013, except for Malta and the Netherlands. More than 60% of the vehicles were registered in three countries: France (24%), United Kingdom (21%) and Germany (15%).
  • Diesel vehicles make up the vast majority of van sales (97%). Alternative fuel vehicles using, for example, liquid petroleum gas (LPG) or natural gas (NG), represent less than 2% of the fleet, with electric vehicle sales comprising less than 0.5%.
  • The average emission levels vary across Europe. Slightly more efficient models were bought in the pre-2004 EU Member States (169.0 g CO2/km) compared to the EU Member States that joined after 2004 (171.6 g CO2/km). 
  • Emissions levels were lowest among new vans sold in Portugal (145.1 g CO2/km), Malta (145.7 g CO2/km) and Bulgaria (148.6 g CO2/km). At the other end of the scale, emissions were approximately 30% higher for the average vans sold in Slovakia (193.3 gCO2/km), the Czech Republic (191.1 g CO2/km) and Germany (190.4 g CO2/km).


The increasing fuel efficiency of vans observed in 2014 is similar to that recently reported by the EEA for new passenger cars sold, which improved by 2.6% between 2013 and 2014.


Member States report CO2 emission levels based upon a certification test procedure. These levels are measured under laboratory conditions using the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) as specified in EU legislation. This certification procedure is designed to make the measurements for all vehicles comparable, but it does not necessarily represent real-world conditions. 

Many vehicles classified as vans under EU legislation are built in several stages involving in most cases a base vehicle (chassis and cab) built by the vehicle manufacturer and a second stage body builder that is responsible for adapting the vehicle for its final purpose. According to EU legislation, it is in most cases only the base vehicle that undergoes the CO2 emissions test. As a consequence, it is the base vehicle manufacturer that is legally responsible for the CO2 emissions of the final vehicle. The vans emissions data compiled by the EEA is therefore more complex than that of passenger cars.

In 2014, a new data collection method has been applied with the aim of improving in particular the identification of multi-stage vehicles but also to ensure higher data quality and more simplified data verification. Changes made to this method also result in a higher level of detail in the dataset. 



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