European carmakers ‘overtake’ most Asian competitors in green race, T&E report shows

Evolving evidence suggests fuel efficiency gains come from manipulating test results, not from better technology that save drivers money

European car manufacturers are better positioned than most of their Asian counterparts [1] to meet the target of 95 g/km average CO2 emissions by 2020, T&E’s 2012 cars and CO2 report says. The report monitors the annual progress made by Europe’s vehicle manufacturers to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of new cars [2]. In the race to hit the 2020 95g target, all European makers (except Daimler) rank in the top 9 whilst five of the bottom six carmakers are Asian.

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Since 2006 T&E’s report ‘How Clean are Europe’s Cars’ has been assessing carmakers’ individual efforts to cut CO2 missions, focusing on how each manufacturer is positioned to meet the obligatory fuel consumption standards that the EU has set for 2015. This year, for the first time, the report also examines how well carmakers are doing towards hitting the 95 g/km target for 2020 [3], and concludes that it will be much easier for the car industry to meet their targets than they have been claiming.

According to the report, industry as a whole cut CO2 emissions and fuel consumption of their cars by 3.3% in 2011. This means that, four years before the compliance date, the 130 g/CO2 target for 2015 is, on average, just 4% away. Fiat, Toyota and Peugeot-Citroën have already met their CO2 targets for 2015 four years ahead of time.

Overall annual progress in reducing CO2 emissions from cars over the past four years was 4%. On the basis of those recent improvements and current positions, the report estimates that Europe’s carmakers will only need to improve fuel efficiency by an annual rate of 3.8% to meet the 95 g/km CO2 target for 2020.

T&E director Jos Dings said: “We already knew that Europe’s carmakers were on track to exceed 2015 targets by a big margin. We now know that most are also on track for 2020, and that European carmakers are generally better placed than most of their Asian competitors. Therefore we should act now to set a 2025 standard of 60 g/km. At stake is not only the future of our planet, but also more disposable money in consumers’ pockets, who save on their fuel bills from low carbon vehicles.”

The report cites worrying emerging evidence that carmakers are cutting their official CO2 emissions and fuel consumption figures not just by improving their cars, but also by ‘optimising’ the way they test them. As a result, the gap between official and ‘real world’ vehicle fuel consumption is growing.

T&E clean vehicles manager Greg Archer said: “It is clear that part of carmakers’ progress does not come from the engineers making their cars more efficient on the road, but rather from manipulating the way they are tested. This should stop; cuts on paper should correspond with cuts on the road, if not, our CO2 targets must be tightened to account for the efficiency lost."

Footnotes: 

Contact the press team

Nico Muzi
Communications Director
+32 (0)484 27 87 91 
nico.muzi@transportenvironment.org

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