Climate Action

Slight increase in average CO2 emissions from new cars sold in Europe in 2017, while CO2 emissions from new vans continue to decrease


The EU fleet average of CO2 emissions of new vehicles in 2017 stayed well below the applicable target, according to final data published by the European Environment Agency. However, for the first time, average CO2 emissions from new passenger cars were slightly higher than in the previous year. For vans, the decreasing trend continued.

The data shows that the average carbon dioxide (CO2) emission, measured in laboratory tests, of a new car sold in the EU in 2017 was 118.5 grams of CO2 per kilometre, which is 0.4 grams per km higher than in 2016. Emissions remained below the current target of 130 g/km, which applies since 2015.

Since monitoring began in 2010, average emissions of new cars in the EU have fallen by 22 grams of CO2 per kilometre – a 15.5% decrease. However, manufacturers will have to further reduce emissions in the coming years in order to meet the EU target of 95 g CO2/km by 2021. In addition, this should be accompanied by the necessary investments in alternative fuel infrastructures and other incentive schemes in Member States.

The average CO2 emission of a new van sold in the EU in 2017 was 156.1 grams per km, which is 7.5 grams per km less than in 2016, and below the 2017 target of 175 g CO2/km. Emissions will have to be reduced further to reach the 2020 EU target of 147 g CO2/km.

For the first year since 2009, more petrol cars (53% of the new fleet) were sold than diesel ones (45%). The share of diesel cars decreased by 5 percentage points compared to 2016 and the share of petrol cars increased accordingly. As diesel cars are generally more fuel-efficient than petrol cars, the observed shift negatively affects the average emissions. In addition, the engine power of passenger cars has been increasing since 2011 (by 18% for petrol cars and 12.5% for diesel cars). More powerful vehicles tend to have higher CO2 emissions.

New registrations of electric vehicles increased significantly in 2017, but overall they still do not represent more than 1.5% of new car registrations (compared to 1% in 2016).

Three cars manufacturers have been found exceeding their specific emission targets, i.e. Automobili Lamborghini SPA, Mazda Motor Corporation and Société des Automobiles Alpine. As a result, they will be required to pay excess emission premiums.

All van manufacturers met their specific CO2 emission targets in 2017.

Laboratory versus real world driving emissions

For the annual compliance check against the CO2 targets, Member States report CO2 emission levels from new vehicles annually. These levels are measured under standardised laboratory conditions, following the requirements of the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) test procedure for type-approval.

This procedure provides CO2 emission values that are comparable between different vehicles and manufacturers, but it does not necessarily represent real-world driving conditions. There is now wide recognition of the increasing divergence between real-world CO2 emissions and those measured according to the NEDC test procedure.

In order to address this increasing gap, the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) is mandatory for all new vehicle types from September 2017 and is mandatory for all new passenger cars from September 2018. Starting from 2021, the CO2 emission targets will be based on the WLTP.

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