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EC proposes 95 grams CO2/km target for new cars by 2020, 147 grams for light vans; super credits for cars below 35g

The European Commission today proposed targets for the further reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new cars and light commercial vehicles (vans) by 2020. The proposals will cut average emissions from new cars to 95 grams of CO2 per km (g CO2/km) in 2020 from 135.7 grams in 2011 and a mandatory target of 130 grams in 2015. Emissions from vans will be reduced to 147g CO2/km in 2020 from 181.4 grams in 2010 (the latest year for which figures are available) and a mandatory target of 175 grams in 2017.

The proposals would amend two existing regulations establishing binding requirements for manufacturers to meet the 2015 mandatory target for cars and the 2017 target for vans. Implementing measures for the regulations are already in place and CO2 emissions from new vehicles are monitored annually.

Europe and the US
By way of trans-Atlantic comparison, 95 g/km is equivalent to 152 g/mile; the current US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) greenhouse gas emissions standard (part of the joint national standard with NHSTA) calls for 250 g/mile in MY 2016. (Earlier post.)
The proposed 2025 US standard would bring that down to 163 g/mile in MY 2025. (Earlier post.) The 163 g/mile limit would be equivalent to 54.5 mpg (4.3 L/100km), if the vehicles were to meet this CO2 solely through fuel economy improvements.

Each European manufacturer will receive an individual annual average target for all its new cars registered in the EU in a given year. If car manufacturers exceed these limits, they are fined €95 (US$116) per vehicle per gram/km over the target.

The mandatory targets for 2020 are already envisaged in existing legislation but require implementation. (The existing regulations state that the Commission should bring forward proposals for implementing the 2020 targets by the end of this year.) The proposals will be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council for discussion and adoption under the normal legislative procedure.

The regulations maintain the current use of vehicle mass; although the Commission assessed a wide range of other possible bases for the future regulations, it found all of these parameters except using the area of the vehicle (footprint) to be undesirable. The EC analyzed the possible use of footprint instead of mass in detail, and found that a footprint-based approach does offer some benefits, including slightly lower costs. However, it was considered that providing certainty for manufacturers ruled out a change of the basis for the regulation for 2020.

T&E: Super credits = “hot air”
Europe-based NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) called incentives such as the super credits within the proposed regulation “hot-air” weakening the proposed 95g/km target by inventing sales of ultra-low carbon vehicles that have not actually been made.
Super-credits just encourage the supply of ultra-low carbon vehicles by manufacturers, T&E said, arguing that this is not the principal issue as there is currently little demand for these vehicles because the purchase price and costs of ownership for the first owner are still currently too high.
T&E instead is calling for 2020 targets of an average 80g CO2/km with an additional 60g CO2 target for 2025.

The EC is also proposing adding super credits for four years (2020–2023) for cars emitting below 35 gCO2/km with a multiplier of 1.3 and limited to a cumulative figure of 20,000 vehicles per manufacturers over the duration of the scheme. I.e., in calculating the average specific emissions of CO2, each new passenger car with specific emissions of CO2 of less than 35 g CO2/km will be counted as 1.3 passenger cars in the period from 2020 to 2023 and as 1 passenger car from 2024 onwards.

The Commission will issue a communication around the end of this year in order to carry out a consultation on the form and stringency of post-2020 CO2 targets for light duty vehicles.

With our proposals we are not only protecting the climate and saving consumers money. We are also boosting innovation and competitiveness in the European automotive industry. And we will create substantial numbers of jobs as a result. This is a clear win-win situation for everyone. This is one more important step towards a competitive, low-carbon economy. More CO2 reductions beyond 2020 need to be prepared and these will be considered in consultation with stakeholders.

—Connie Hedegaard, EU Commissioner for Climate Action

The Commission says that its analysis shows that the 2020 targets are achievable, economically sound and cost effective: the technology is readily available, its cost is substantially lower than previously thought and its implementation should boost employment and GDP and benefit consumers and industry.

Each new car will on average save its owner around €340 (US$417) in fuel costs in the first year, and an estimated total of €2,904–3,836 (US$3,559–$4,701) over the car’s lifetime (13 years), as compared with the 2015 target. For vans the average fuel cost saving is estimated at around €400 (US$490) in the first year and €3,363-4,564 (US$4,121–5,593) over their 13-year lifetime.

Overall, consumers will save around €30 billion (US$37 billion) per year in fuel costs, according to the EC, which also estimates that the targets could increase EU GDP by €12 billion (US$14.7 billion) annually and spending on employment by some €9 billion (US$11 billion) a year. The proposals would in total save 160 million tonnes of oil and around 420 million tonnes of CO2 in the period to 2030.

In response, Ivan Hodac, Secretary General for the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) said that the proposal to reach a fleet-average target of 95 gCO2/km for cars and 147 gCO2/km for vans by 2020 will remain extremely challenging.

Considering that most manufacturers are losing money in Europe at the moment, the industry needs as competitive a framework as possible. Targets—while ambitious—must be feasible. The overall regulatory framework and market environment must be supportive, as also agreed in the recently concluded CARS 21 process.

—Ivan Hodac


  • Proposal for a Regulation to define the modalities for reaching the 2020 target for reducing CO2 emissions from new passenger cars (provisional version)

  • Proposal for a Regulation to define the modalities for reaching the 2020 target for reducing CO2 emissions from new light commercial vehicles (provisional version)



The target emissions can only be achieved by addressing the main constituent of engine efficiency loss -- the pumping loss of the engine. In day-to-day driving 20% of fuel is wasted moving air/fuel in and out of the engine. The throttle plate is a very effective means of controlling the engine. In fact, the throttle plate is as effective as it is inefficient. Engine control via suffocation cannot survive.

James Meyer
PRV Performance


That's more that a 30% percent reduction. Last year the EU parliament voted overwhelmingly against a proposal by the EU commission to reduce CO2 by 30% by 2020. Now the Commission tries again, this time on one segment of the market.


BMW has been using the fully-variable valve system, Valvetronic, a couple of years now to avoid (i.e. drastically reducing) throttling losses. Although the fuel consumption has been lower than for most comparable cars, this alone will not meet the 95 g/km target. Many other measures, such as e.g. reducing the resistance of the car and downsizing, must been taken. In addition, we should realize that diesel cars have ~50% of the EU market. Thus, an average diesel car could have CO2 emissions of 85 g/km while the corresponding gasoline car would have 105 g/km. Taking an average-sized EU car, i.e. a Ford Focus, as an example, we could look at the versions with the best fuel economy for each fuel. The EcoBoost 1.0-liter gasoline engine, in the 100 PS version, gets CO2 emissions at 109 g/km, while the 105 PS ECOnetic diesel engine gives 88 g/km. Thus, further improvements of 4-5 g/km in each case would achieve the 95 g/km target. For example, fully-variable valve timing could improve the gasoline version further, although it does not have similar relative impact on a turbocharged and downsized engine as on a naturally-aspirated engine, unless they (with further improvement on turbocharging) would go for using Miller valve timing in a larger area of the load and speed range. Similarly, downsizing would be one option for the diesel version, since we know that a significantly smaller engine than 1.6 liters would also do the job (assuming >105 PS). However, we should also realize that there are other models of the current Focus car that will increase the average CO2 for this car. Thus, many other actions will also be necessary, unless Ford would want to limit what they offer in respect of more powerful options. Bearing in mind the necessary lead time in the auto industry, Ford (and others) must contemplate on said improvements and presumably, many other modifications, already today.

Tomi Luoma

An all-electric car would have low emissions on paper, but if the electricity is "dirty" and as in the US almost half of the electricity is generated from coal, the CO2 emissions can be higher than in standard cars with gasoline or diesel engines. Can electric cars claim to be 'emissions-free' when they run on electricity generated from the burning of coal?

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