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EU: Average CO2 emissions from new cars increase in 2018 for the second consecutive year

27 June 2019

According to provisional data published by the European Environment Agency (EEA), the average CO2 emissions from new passenger cars registered in the European Union (EU) in 2018 increased for the second consecutive year, reaching 120.4 grams of CO2 per kilometer. For the first time, the average CO2 emissions from new vans (light commercial vehicles) also increased. Manufacturers will have to reduce emissions of their fleet significantly to meet the upcoming 2020 and 2021 targets, noted the EEA.

After a steady decline from 2010 to 2016, by almost 22 g/km, average CO2 emissions from new passenger cars increased in 2017 by 0.4 g/km. According to the provisional data, the upward trend continued with an additional increase of 2.0 g/km in 2018.

Average CO2 emissions from new passenger cars and vans in the EU-28

Data for 2018 is provisional and also includes Iceland

Vans registered in the EU and Iceland in 2018 emitted on average 158.1 g/km CO2, which is 2.0 g/km 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 CO2 decrease in 2017, vans appeared to have been on course to meet their 2020 emission targets, but the 2018 increase suggests this may no longer be the case.

The main factors contributing to the increase of new passenger cars’ emissions in 2018 include the growing share of petrol cars in new registrations that displace diesels, in particular in the sport utility vehicle (SUV) segment. Moreover, the market penetration of zero- and low-emission vehicles, including electric cars, remained slow in 2018. With the 2021 CO2 target of 95 g/km approaching, much faster deployment of cars with low emissions is needed across Europe, said the EEA.

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 CO2 target of 147 g/km set for 2020.

Other key findings of the report include:

As the average CO2 emissions continue to increase, European car makers may be facing steep penalties for missing their 2020/2021 targets. These penalties are set at €95 for each car and €120 for each van, for each g/km exceeding the target. Volkswagen and FiatChrysler could face penalties of up to 1.83 billion euros and 746 million euros respectively, according to estimates by AlixPartners.

In December 2018, EU lawmakers reached an agreement to further tighten the fleet average emission targets from new cars for 2025 and 2030, which aim to reduce CO2 emissions by 15% in 2025 and by 37.5% in 2030, compared with 2021 baseline levels. For light commercial vehicles, the targets consist of reductions by 15% in 2025 and 31% in 2030, relative to 2021. These targets require a significant penetration of electrically chargeable vehicles in the EU new vehicle fleet by 2030, possibly on the order of 30-40%. This carries a considerable business risk for the EU automotive industry, as the market potential of electric vehicles remains limited due to their higher cost and the lack of vehicle charging infrastructure.

ACEA, the trade group representing European vehicle makers, has repeatedly urged the EU member states to step up investments in charging points for electrically-chargeable vehicles and refueling stations for other alternatively-powered cars, and putting in place “meaningful and sustainable incentive schemes” to encourage more consumers to buy them.

“Amidst the strong push for alternatively-powered vehicles, we should not write off the latest generation of diesel cars, which not only emit less CO2 than their petrol counterparts, but also deliver low on-road pollutant emissions in practice,” stressed ACEA Secretary General, Erik Jonnaert.

Source: EEA