Proposed van emission standards deny EU businesses lower fuel costs and reduced emissions, new report shows


Stricter CO2 target for vans is good for the economy and the environment.
European companies would save €825 a year in lower fuel costs for each van they own, if the European Union sets more stringent 2020 CO2 emission targets for light commercial vehicles. This is the key conclusion of a new report (1) commissioned by Transport & Environment, the sustainable transport campaigners.

Vans are one of the fastest growing sources of transport greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, increasing by 26% between 1995 and 2010. Vans’ emissions now account for 8% of total road transport emissions, with further growth anticipated. The study shows a target of 118 g/km would double CO2 savings to an additional 2.7 million tonnes of CO2 per year compared to the proposed 147 g/km target. CO2 emissions are directly related to fuel consumption. The extra technology cost would be paid back through fuel savings within three years.

In July, the Commission adopted two proposals setting carbon emission limits for cars and vans. For vans, the current target of 147g CO2/km was confirmed, although it is much less stringent than the target for cars (95g/km), after accounting for the fact that vans are mostly larger and heavier than cars.

Operating a van typically costs around €2,400 a year in diesel alone – and fuel bills represent around a third of the total cost of ownership. The report indicates that setting a tougher vans target will payback in less than three years and save €6,500 in fuel over the lifetime of the van, significantly lowering the overall cost of ownership.

The report also shows that the original estimates of average van CO2 emissions were much lower than believed. The 147g/km target is therefore much easier to reach than envisaged. The study also indicates that previous estimates of the costs of technology to cut CO2 emissions were exaggerated by between a factor of 4 to 17.

Transport & Environment’s Greg Archer said, “The Commission proposal to retain the 147g/km target denies EU businesses the fuel efficient vans they need and ignores the new evidence of economic and environmental benefits (2) of a tighter standard. It means that vans could become a technology graveyard with solutions to improve fuel efficiency, which have already been developed for cars left on the shelf.”

“There is no reason standards for vans should be softer than those for cars. This would mean a van target of 118 g/km max, not 147 g/km,” Mr Archer added.


(1) TNO report can be downloaded from TNO is an independent research organisation that applies scientific knowledge to improve the competitiveness of companies and to assist governments with policy matters.
(2) Transport & Environment Position Paper is available at


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Eoin Bannon
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