3 Fuel Consumption & CO2

Average CO2 emissions of newly registered cars in the EU, normalized to the NEDC test cycle, were 119 g/km in 2017. The EU’s overall 2015 target of 130 g/km was met in 2013, two years ahead of schedule. But emission levels vary widely among Member States, with Germany at the upper end (126 g/km) and France at the lower end (110 g/km) of the spectrum. The Netherlands have one of the lowest emission level (109 g/km), even though the average new-car emission level increased in 2016 and 2017 (Fig. 3-6).

In July 2012, the European Commission came forward with a regulatory proposal to set a 2020 target of 95 g/km for newly registered cars. The regulation was formally adopted in March 2014. It sets individual targets for manufacturers, depending on the average vehicle weight of a manufacturer’s fleet, and requires all manufacturers to reduce CO2 emissions by 27 % compared to their individual 2015 targets (Tab. 3-1). The regulation will be phased in over one year, so that only in 2021 will all vehicles be taken into account when calculating the fleet averages.

For light commercial vehicles (LCVs), a similar 2020 regulation was adopted. It sets an overall target of 147 g/km, 16 % lower than the 2017 target of 175 g/km. This 2017 target was already met in 2013, when CO2 emissions of LCVs in the EU reached a level of 175 g/km. In 2017, the CO2 level of new LCVs was 156 g/km.

While average CO2 emissions have dropped for all engine technologies, the decline in emission levels since 2005 has been particularly steep for gasoline vehicles. This is in part due to changes in the market, but also to the fact that the CO2 efficiency gap between gasoline and diesel engines continues to narrow (123 g/km vs. 118 g/km in 2017). Hybrid-electric vehicles show a lower CO2 emission level (90 g/km in 2017) (Fig. 3-9).

The change in key vehicle parameters, such as engine power, displacement, and vehicle weight since 2001, testifies to the significant developments in automotive design over the past decade. CO2 emissions have decreased significantly, even as average mass has increased. At the same time, manufacturers are extracting more and more power from smaller engines. These developments imply that lower CO2 emissions would be possible if vehicle weight and engine size were reduced (Fig. 3-16). In 2017, the average weight of new cars in the EU increased compared to the previous year, to 1,395 kg (Fig. 3-14).