21 Oct 21

Average CO2 emissions of new cars in Europe drops

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) recently published figures that show the average CO2 emissions from new passenger cars in the European Union (EU) are down by 22.4% since 2010.

Making the transition to electric vehicles is on the agenda for many fleets and is one of the topics we will be discussing at the Fleet Europe Summit 2021 in November. Register here for tickets.

The average new car in the EU emits 108.2g CO2/km. Manufacturers have worked hard in the past decade to design and build cars with lower (or no) CO2 emissions and have (according to ACEA figures) been successful. 80% of new cars sold in the EU emit less than 130g CO2/km.

Emissions from car production also down

CO2 emissions from car production in the EU have also dropped a dramatic 48.5% since 2005 and water consumed per car produced has reduced by over half (53.8%) since 2005.

Purchase incentives for electric vehicles (EVs) are available in 18 EU countries and 21 EU member states apply CO2-based taxation to incentivise a transition from ICEs to EVs.

In the association’s annual pocket guide to the EU automotive industry, Eric-Mark Huitema, ACEA Director-General, states: “And as we work towards a new era of mobility and a carbon-neutral Europe, innovation remains at the core of our sector’s DNA. Investing an impressive €62 billion per year, and responsible for a whopping 33% of total EU spending on innovation, the automotive sector has really solidified its position as Europe’s number one investor in R&D. More than ever, we are ready and committed to providing solutions for the challenges of tomorrow

In 2020, the average CO2 emissions from new passenger cars registered in the EU were 108.2 g CO2/km. This represents an 11.3% decrease compared to 2019. Norway, of course, takes the lead with an average 38.2g CO2/km, followed by Iceland, The Netherlands and Sweden at 80.2, 82.3 and 93.4g CO2/km, respectively. Denmark, Portugal and France come next with 95.3, 97.5 and 98.5g CO2/km, respectively. Even though all EU member states showed significant improvement from 10 years ago, the ones that need to do the most catching up are Bulgaria (133g CO2/km) and Poland (125g CO2/km).

Gas guzzlers losing their appeal

Another interesting fact that could be part of the reason why emissions of new cars are reducing is that large passenger cars are losing their appeal. According to ACEA, small and lower medium cars account for 44% of total EU car sales. The preference for alternative fuelled vehicles (including BEVs, PHEVs and others) has grown from 5.9% in 2017 to almost 25% in 2020. The preference is for hybrid electric at 11.9%, followed by battery electric at 5.4% and plug-in hybrid at 5.1%.

ACEA’s research also revealed the impact COVID 19 has had on the automotive sector. Almost 13 million motor vehicles were made in the EU in 2020, which represents 16.7% of global production, but it was down 5 million units compared to 2019. Car manufacturing plummeted by 23.3% during the pandemic in 2020 as citizens all across the Union were locked down and stopped using their cars. Exports of EU-built vehicles also decreased by 15% in that same year.

With the transition to EVs among consumers and business fleets gathering pace, it looks as if emissions will continue to decline. We’ll be keeping a close eye on research and reporting significant findings here.

Main image courtesy of Shutterstock, graphs courtesy of ACEA

Authored by: Alison Pittaway