Carmakers’ fuel-economy progress points to new 2025 CO2 targets

July 13, 2015

The European Commission is coming under increasing pressure to propose new car fuel economy targets for 2025 after news that carmakers which account for three-quarters of sales in Europe are on track to meet their goals for 2021.


T&E’s How Clean Are Europe’s Cars 2015? report found five carmakers – Peugeot Citroën, Volvo, Toyota, Nissan and Daimler – are ahead of schedule to achieve the target of 95 grammes of CO2 per kilometre by 2021, based on past progress. Renault, Ford and Volkswagen are also broadly on schedule to meet their 2021 target.

Only four manufacturers – Fiat, GM, Honda and Hyundai – need to quickly improve to achieve the 2021 goal, according to the 10th annual edition of the report that tracks progress made by carmakers to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of new cars. It found that the last three have yet to meet their 2015 targets.

Nissan’s European fleet was the most improved in 2014 with a 12.1% reduction in official CO2 figures. The Japanese carmaker has led the field for progress in fuel efficiency since the EU proposed CO2 limits in 2008, reducing carbon emissions by an average of 5.5% a year.

Nissan’s improvement in 2014 – from 131g CO2/km to 115g CO2/km – is easily the largest gain made by any major car manufacturer in recent years. T&E’s analysis credited much of the progress to last year’s upgrade of the top-selling Qashqai, illustrating the untapped potential of fuel efficiency technology to meet tighter targets. The new Qashqai engines were on average 20g CO2/km more efficient in 2014.

Commenting on the report, Greg Archer, clean vehicles manager at T&E, said: ‘Regulations to improve car fuel economy are working with carmakers that claim three-quarters of sales in Europe on track to meet their 2021 target. The Commission must now propose a new target for 2025 to maintain momentum.’

However, while official tests show new cars making a steady reduction in CO2 emissions, only half this progress – less than 2% improvement per year – is realised on the road. T&E says the gap between official test results and the cars’ performances outside the laboratory is significant and growing.

Carmakers are seeking to delay the introduction by the Commission of a new test cycle in 2017 until after 2021. They wish to continue using the current inadequate 40-year-old test and are supported by Germany, which wants to continue allowing companies to cheat the test through the backdoor.

Cars are responsible for 12% of Europe’s total CO2 emissions and are the single largest source of emissions in the transport sector. The EU’s first obligatory rules on carbon emissions require car manufacturers to limit their average car to a maximum of 130g CO2/km by 2015. The target for 2021 is 95g CO2/km or about a 40% reduction from 2007.

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