CO2 Emissions From New Cars Continue Steep Descent in 2010

Average CO2 emissions from new cars in the EU dropped by almost 4% last year, the second biggest annual fall ever recorded. Last year’s improvements bring the average CO2 emissions of cars registered in the EU to 140 grams per km, according to a database just published by the European Environment Agency.

At this rate the European target of 130 g CO2/km will be met earlier than the 2015 deadline. The decrease in average emissions in 2010 was lower than in 2009 (5.1%); the results in 2009 were probably influenced by the economic crisis and the scrappage schemes in some member states.

The average engine capacity of the cars sold in 2010 slightly increased compared to 2009. Also the average weight of cars rose considerably after the sharp decrease seen in 2009 and is now back at the level seen in the years prior to the economic crisis. However, average CO2 emissions per kilometre travelled were cut thanks to improved vehicle technology and fuel efficiency.

Alternative fuel vehicles were also monitored. Last year about 13000 flex-fuel vehicles and 700 electric vehicles were registered in the EU.

Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard says: “These data show again that setting targets delivers results and stimulates the car industry to put greener cars on the market. These innovations also ensure that Europe’s car industry remains competitive in the changing global market.”

Road transport generates about one fifth of all CO2 emissions in the EU, with cars being responsible for more than half of overall transport emissions. CO2 emissions from road transport rose by 29% between 1990 and 2007, due to the rising number of vehicles on the road and longer distances driven. In 2008 road transport emissions decreased for the first time since 1990 to 25% above 1990 levels.

Regulation (EC) No 443/2009 provides that by 2015 the fleet average to be achieved by all cars registered in the EU is 130 g CO2/km – which is about one fifth below 2007 levels. The target is gradually phased in: in 2012, 65% of each manufacturer’s newly registered cars must comply, rising to 75% in 2013, 80% in 2014, to reach 100% by 2015. Manufacturers that exceed the limit will have to pay an excess emissions premium for each car registered.

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