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EU new car CO2 emissions up in 2018; 2020/21 targets now very challenging says EEA

Mon 24 June 2019 | Back to news list

Average emissions from new passenger cars registered in the European Union (EU) increased for the second consecutive year in 2018, according to provisional data published by the European Environment Agency. Average new car CO2 emissions across the EU rose 2.0g CO2 /km to 120.4g. For the first time, the average CO2 emissions from new vans also increased.

Average UK new car CO2 emissions data recently released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed a rise of 2.9%, worse that the EU average. (Link)

The provisional data has been published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) based on emissions from new passenger cars registered in the European Union (EU) in 2018. Manufacturers will have to reduce emissions of their fleet significantly to meet the upcoming 2020 and 2021 targets of 95g CO2/km.

After a steady decline from 2010 to 2016, by almost 22 grams of CO2 per kilometre (g CO2/km), average emissions from new passenger cars increased in 2017 by 0.4 g CO2/km and -according the provisional data - by 2.0 g CO2/km in 2018.

Vans registered in the EU and Iceland in 2018 emitted on average 158.1 g CO2/km, which is 2.0 grams more than in 2017. This is the first increase in average CO2 emissions from new vans since the regulation came into force in 2011, following a sharp decrease in 2017.

The EEA says that the main factors contributing to the increase of new passenger cars’ emissions in 2018 include the growing share of petrol cars in new registrations, in particular in the sport utility vehicle (SUV) segment.

The Agency says that many factors affected the increase in CO2 emissions from new vans in 2018, including an increase in the mass, engine capacity and size of the vehicles. The market share of petrol vehicles also increased, constituting 3.6 % of the new vans fleet (2.4 % in 2017). The share of zero- and low-emission vans remained at the same level (1.7%) as in 2017. Further efficiency improvements are needed to reach the EU target of 147 g CO2/km set for 2020.

Key findings included:

  • Petrol cars were the most sold passenger vehicles in the EU and in Iceland, constituting almost 60% of all new registrations. Diesel vehicles constituted 36% of the new registrations, marking a drop of 9 percentage points from 2017, and 19 percentage points from 2011 when diesel cars peaked with a 55% share of new registrations.
  • On average, the CO2 emissions of diesel cars (121.5 g CO2/km) are now very close to those of petrol cars (123.4 g CO2/km). The difference of 1.9 g CO2/km was the lowest observed in the past 5 years.
  • Around 4.5 million new cars sold in the EU and in Iceland in 2018 — almost one out of three — were SUVs. Compared to cars in similar segment, SUVs are typically heavier and have more powerful engines and larger frontal areas — all features that increase fuel consumption. The majority of new SUVs sold were powered by petrol, with average emissions of 133 g CO2/km, which is around 13 g CO2/km higher than the average emissions of other new petrol cars.
  • Sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and battery-electric vehicles (BEV) continued to increase. With around 150 000 registrations, sales of BEVs increased by 50% compared to 2017. However, the combined share of PHEVs and BEVs in all car sales remains low (2% compared to 1.5% in 2017).
  • The combined shares of PHEV and BEV sales were highest in Iceland (15%), Sweden (8.4%) and the Netherlands (6.8%). Together with Estonia, Finland and Malta, these were the only countries where the average emissions of new cars decreased from 2017 to 2018.

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