Average European new car CO2 emissions have fallen by around 12% since 2003, according to a new study from auto consultancy JATO Dynamics. The volume-weighted European new car average is now 145.9 g/km, almost 20 g/km less than 2003, when JATO began collating European CO2 emissions data.
"The pace of improvement is remarkable and shows just how rapidly the industry has reacted to environmental demands," said David Di Girolamo, Head of JATO Consult.
"In 2003, only 24% of the market achieved an average of 130g/km. This was 40% by 2007, 51% in 2008 and 69% last year, already ahead of the 2012 EU target. This achievement is even greater when set in the context of new cars becoming larger, safer and better equipped, as consumer demands reach ever higher," he added.
According to the report, the decline in new car CO2 emissions is due to three key factors:
1) Vehicle Developments - including more efficient petrol and diesel engines, hybrid powertrains, more sophisticated transmissions, low rolling-resistance tires, improved attention to detail, aerodynamics, stop-start technology and regenerative charging systems
2) Taxation – guiding demand towards these models and technologies CO2-based purchase and/or ownership taxes, in some countries have been introduced in tandem with higher taxes on fuel. Significant rises in fuel prices (due to global oil prices) continue to influence consumers' choice of vehicle.
3) Scrappage schemes – during late 2008 and 2009, scrappage schemes in a number of European countries have benefitted the purchase of smaller, more efficient cars, in some cases with customers directly incentivized towards cars with low CO2 emissions.
Even non-scrappage sales have seen a marked shift towards smaller cars, with the largest rise in B-segment vehicles, an effect of recessionary pressure on family budgets pushing many customers across Europe to consider fuel efficiency ahead of other factors, for the first time.
Di Girolamo added that the rate of improvement been increasing since 2007, through more low-CO2 technology and specific low-CO2 models on European roads.
"Looking at year-on-year trends, it appears that, if the current momentum can be maintained, 130g/km by 2015, as required by the EU legislation, is achievable," Di Girolamo concluded.