Automotive CO2 emissions continue to fall in Europe


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While concerns over Nitrous Oxide (NOx) emissions are grabbing all the headlines at the moment, it shouldn’t be forgotten that significant progress has been made in Europe in the last decade or so towards reducing  CO2 emissions that generate equally harmful greenhouse gases.

Figures released by Jato Dynamics, the leading automotive business intelligence solutions provider, show that average CO2 emissions for new cars in Europe fell by 1.2% in 2016, demonstrating the continued progress being made by the industry. The analysis covered 23 European markets and showed that average CO2 emissions across the board are now 117.8 g/km. While that result was 1.4 g/km lower than the total seen in 2015, it also represents the smallest annual percentage improvement for the last ten years. In part this can be attributed to the slower growth of diesel registrations in 2016. Diesels tend to produce lower CO2, but higher NOx emissions than their petrol counterparts.

Volume-weighted average CO2 emissions are calculated by multiplying the CO2 emissions rating of each car version by the volumes achieved by that version in a given timescale, totalling this product for all versions, then dividing by the total volume of all versions.

The data was released as the industry gears up for the introduction of the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), a new methodology to measure fuel consumption and CO2 emissions based on a more realistic driving cycle. It comes into force for new types of passenger vehicles in September 2017, with compliance for all types of passenger vehicles expected a year later.

Across the individual manufacturers the results were positive for the PSA Group, with Peugeot and Citroen claiming the top two places for low average emissions for a second year in succession. With an average CO2 figure across its range of 101.9g/km, Peugeot improved its year on year rating by 1.7g/km, primarily due to an improvement in its petrol engines. Citroen’s 103.3g/km represented a reduction of 2.3g/km over that recorded in 2015.

Toyota, with its hybrid models continuing to gain market share, moved into third place on 104.0g/km ahead of Renault, with Skoda overtaking Nissan for fifth. Generally the manufacturers with smaller models, or those with fewer SUV type vehicles in their line-ups, as well as those with predominantly diesel engines tended to score better when measuring CO2 emissions.

Just three brands recorded higher average CO2 emissions than in 2015, namely Nissan, Ford and Mazda, with this being attributed to strong sales for specific models within the ranges with higher CO2 figures, respectively the X-Trail, Mustang and MX-5. The sales success of the Mustang V8 was also considered the reason why the Sports segment was the only category to increase CO2 emissions, negating the improvements made by the BMW 4-Series, Mercedes C-Class Coupé, MINI Convertible and Porsche 911.

On a country level, Norway had the lowest CO2 emissions of all countries analysed. Incentives to increase the use of EVs and hybrids resulted in these segments accounting for 39% of the country’s total registrations. Ireland was in 8th place, with the UK 13th, perhaps reflecting the dominance of diesel vehicles here compared to other markets.

Notably, the Netherlands and Denmark were the only two markets with increased average CO2 emissions in 2016. This was largely because of government policy decisions – the reduction of tax incentives in the Netherlands resulted in a 53% fall in demand for PHEVs, and increased tax rates for EVs in Denmark resulted in a 71% fall in EV registrations.

“It’s clear that the industry is making progress: CO2 emissions declined. The rate of decline has, however, slowed. This is due to the increased market share of gasoline vehicles and the deceleration of the growth of diesel vehicles. With WLTP imminent this is a significant year and it remains to be seen the impact it will have on emissions monitoring,” commented Felipe Munoz, Global Automotive Analyst at JATO Dynamics.