• EU signals car fuel economy could double by 2025

    Transport & Environment (T&E) has welcomed an EU agreement that could lead to a doubling of the fuel-efficiency of new cars by 2025 and a halving of CO2 emissions. However, the final agreement is weaker than that of the European Parliament and offers too many concessions to appease German luxury carmakers.

    The deal between the European Commission, Parliament and Irish Presidency of the European Council is subject to ratification by Member States but should mean that the average fuel economy of new cars, currently around 6 litres/100km (in tests), will fall to 4 litres by 2020. The agreement anticipates further improving fuel efficiency by 4–6% per annum after 2020, which could result in fuel economy by 2025 being below 3l/100km and CO2 emissions below 70g/km.

    Commenting on the outcome of the negotiations, Greg Archer of T&E said: “The EU has made an important step forward to reduce climate-changing emissions from cars. But it could have been even better for drivers, jobs and the EU economy if Member States had focused on the significant long-term benefits of more fuel-efficient cars instead of being influenced by the narrow, short-term interests of some carmakers.”

    The accord also confirms that a new system for testing emissions of new cars should be introduced as soon as possible. This would ensure that the gap between official fuel economy figures and real-world performance achieved by drivers on the road is closed. At present the gap is growing with drivers achieving fuel efficiency around 25% higher on average than declared by carmakers.

    The deal includes a system of ‘supercredits’ to encourage supply of electric and other ultra-low carbon vehicles. The agreement means that every electric vehicle sold in 2020 counts double, allowing carmakers to make less progress in reducing emissions from conventional cars. The effect of the supercredits is to raise the 2020 target from 95g/km to 97.5g/km, ultimately costing the average driver money in extra fuel purchased.

    The European Parliament and Council failed to agree on an indicative target for 2025. The European Commission has officially declared its full commitment to a 2025 target in the range of 68 to 78g/km, equivalent to under 3 litres per 100km. It will propose the exact target by 2015.

    Greg Archer added: “The deal shows the EU recognises its economic future is dependent upon driving innovation towards more efficient, environmentally-friendly cars. But gas-guzzlers would have been condemned to history had the EU adopted a 2025 target and less generous supercredits in 2020.”