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Reducing CO2 emissions from vans

Vans ('light commercial vehicles') account for around 12% of the EU market for light-duty vehicles.

Van on the Move © iStockphoto

EU legislation sets CO2 emission targets for new vans sold on the European market. The law is similar to that for new cars.

2017 target

The law requires that new vans registered in the EU do not emit more than an average of 175 grams of CO2 per kilometre by 2017. This is 3% less than the 2012 average of 180.2 g CO2/km.

In terms of fuel consumption, the target corresponds to about 6.6 l/100 km of diesel.

In 2014, the average van sold in the EU emitted 169.2 g CO2/km (preliminary data). This is significantly below the 2017 target, which was already reached in 2013, four years ahead of schedule.

2020 target

For 2020, the target is 147 grams of CO2 per kilometre – 19% less than the 2012 average. This target corresponds to around 5.5 l/100 km of diesel.

Limit value curve

Emission limits are set according to the mass of vehicle, using a limit value curve. The curve is set in such a way that the fleet average targets are achieved.

The limit value curve means that heavier vans are allowed higher emissions than lighter vans. Only the manufacturer's fleet average is regulated, so manufacturers are still able to make vans with emissions above the curve provided these are balanced by vehicles with emissions below the curve.

Phase-in of requirements

The 2017 target is phased in:

  • In 2014 an average of 70% of each manufacturer's newly registered vans must comply with the limit value curve
  • In 201680%
  • From 2017 onwards – 100%

The 2020 target is effective in 2020 with no delay.

Types of vehicles affected

The legislation affects light commercial vehicles, which means vehicles used to carry goods weighing up to 3.5 tonnes (vans and car-derived vans, known as "N1") and which weigh less than 2610 kg when empty.

Penalty payments for excess emissions

If the average CO2 emissions of a manufacturer's fleet exceed its limit value in any year from 2014, the manufacturer has to pay an excess emissions premium for each van registered.

This premium amounts to

  • €5 for the first g/km of exceedance
  • €15 for the second g/km
  • €25 for the third g/km
  • €95 for each subsequent g/km.

From 2019 onwards, the cost will be €95 from the first gram of exceedance onwards. This value is equivalent to the premium for passenger cars.


Innovative technologies can help cut emissions, but in some cases it is not possible to demonstrate the CO2-reducing effects of a new technology during the test procedure used for vehicle type approval.

To encourage eco-innovation, manufacturers can be granted emission credits equivalent to a maximum emissions saving of 7g/km per year for their fleet if they equip vehicles with innovative technologies, based on independently verified data.

Super credits

The vans Regulation temporarily gives manufacturers additional incentives to produce vehicles with extremely low emissions (below 50g/km).

Each low-emitting van will be counted as

  • 3.5 vehicles in 2014 and 2015
  • 2.5 in 2016
  • 1.5 vehicles in 2017
  • 1 vehicle from 2018 onwards.

Manufacturers will be able to claim this 'super credit' for a maximum of 25,000 vans over the 2014-17 period.

Pools acting jointly

Manufacturers may group together and act jointly to meet the emission target.

In forming a pool, manufacturers must respect the rules of competition law. The information that they exchange should be limited to average specific emissions of CO2, their specific emissions targets, and their total number of vehicles registered.

Targets for smaller manufacturers

Manufacturers responsible for fewer than 22,000 new van registrations per year can propose their own emissions reduction target, which is subject to approval by the Commission based on agreed criteria.

Manufacturers responsible for fewer than 1000 new van registrations per year in the EU are exempted from having a specific emissions target.

Monitoring of emissions

The Commission has set out rules for monitoring the CO2 emissions of new vans. The Member States are required to deliver this data from 2012 onwards.

Long-term target

The legislation requests the Commission to review the legislation by 2015 and if appropriate make proposals for CO2 emission targets for new vans for the period beyond 2020, including possibly setting a 2025 target.

The Regulation asks the Commission to consider the relevance of CO2 emissions from energy supply and vehicle manufacturing in this work.