GCEP Awards $1.15 Million for Biofuels and Carbon Sequestration Research
Startup Working to Commercialize Direct Injection Ethanol Boosting + Turbocharging

75% of Major European Car Brands Not Tracking to Meet Voluntary CO2 Reduction Commitments

Performance of top 20 brands relative to projected 2005 reduction target (100% line) required to meet 140g/km commitment. Click to enlarge.

Three-quarters of the 20 major car brands sold in Europe last year have failed to improve fuel efficiency at the rate needed to meet a key EU greenhouse gas emissions target, according to a new study commissioned by the organization Transport & Environment (T&E).

The study is the first to track brand-level progress in reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions under the terms of a commitment made by the car industry to the EU to reduce the average CO2 emissions from their new car sales in the EU. The EU’s objective is to reduce the average CO2 emissions of newly sold passenger cars in the EU to 120 g/km by 2010. The 120 g/km target represents a 35% reduction over 1995 levels.

Improving fuel efficiency is a basic approach to reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases resulting from transportation. The 120 g/km target corresponds to an average fuel consumption of 5 l/100km (47 mpg US) for gasoline cars and 4.5 l/100 km (52.3 mpg US), to be measured on the official European driving cycle.

The European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) committed on behalf of its members in 1998 to reduce average CO2 emissions from their new car sales in the EU to 140 g/km by 2008—a 25% reduction over 1995 levels. The EU informally postponed its deadline for 120 g/km to 2012.

In 1999, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) and the Korean Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA) made similar 140 g/km commitments for their EU sales, with a one year offset to 2009. All manufacturers, in other words, had a decade to meet their voluntary target.

The 140 g/km commitment corresponds to an average fuel consumption of 6 l/100km (39.2 mpg US) for gasoline cars, and 5.3 l/100km (44.4 mpg US) for diesels.

Progress over time in the CO2 commitment of the three car manufacturing associations, and distance to target if historic rate of improvement is not changed. Click to enlarge.

In April 2006, T&E published an analysis that showed that the European car industry as a whole was not tracking to meet its greenhouse gas improvements. (Earlier post.) (See chart at right.)

For this new study, T&E commissioned the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), UK to analyze sales data at the brand level from the period 1997-2005 supplied by R.L. Polk Marketing Systems GmbH.

The study includes the 20 car brands that sold more than 150,000 cars in the EU15 in 2005, representing more than 90% of car sales in the EU.

To determine whether or not the automakers are tracking to meet their commitment, IEEP calculated the rate of progress that each of the brands should have achieved by 2005 in order to achieve the 140g/km objective in 2008 or 2009, under a reduction pathway with a constant percentage of improvement per year.

According to the study, 75% of carmakers are failing to cut emissions fast enough to meet those targets. The study found that Nissan is the worst performer in Europe followed by Suzuki, Mazda, Audi, Volvo, BMW and Volkswagen. These seven all cut emissions at less than half the rate needed to meet their commitment.

Fiat is the best performer in Europe, followed by Citroën, Renault, Ford and Peugeot. All five are on track to meet or exceed the target by 2008.

Toyota, maker of the low-emission Prius hybrid, came in seventh (behind Ford and GM’s Opel/Vauxhall) and is failing to improve efficiency across its range at the rate needed, according to the analysis. Honda came in number 11. The study notes that if climate targets are to be met, companies must improve efficiency across their entire range. One or two very efficient models that sell in limited numbers are not enough.

Renault is on track while Volkswagen is way off even though Renault started with higher emissions in 1997. Clearly the target is achievable, but as long as seventy-five percent of carmakers go unpunished for their failure, we will never make the necessary progress.

Europe must kiss its voluntary targets goodbye and waste no more time in coming up with legally binding measures to double fuel-efficiency in the next decade. Individual carmakers must be held responsible and punished if they fail.

—Aat Peterse, Clean Cars Program Manager, Transport and Environment

Brand-by-Brand Progress
Rank Brand 2005 sales CO2 emissions in g/km % 2005 Target Achieved
1997 avg. 2005 avg. reduction 1997-2005 2005 reduction target
1 Fiat 681,613 169 139 -30 -21 140%
2 Citroën 875,389 172 144 -28 -24 115%
3 Renault 1,361,607 173 149 -25 -25 100%
4 Ford 1,167,602 180 151 -29 -30 95%
5 Peugeot 1,049,819 177 151 -26 -28 94%
6 Opel/Vauxhall 1,262,798 180 156 -24 -30 81%
7 Toyota 704,723 189 163 -26 -35 76%
8 Kia 231,434 202 170 -32 -44 72%
9 Skoda 265,486 165 152 -13 -19 71%
10 Seat 344,693 158 150 -8 -13 63%
11 Honda 224,258 184 166 -18 -31 60%
12 Mercedes-Benz 626,824 223 185 -38 -64 59%
13 Hyundai 294,468 189 170 -19 -34 57%
14 Volkswagen 1,387,628 170 159 -11 -22 48%
15 BMW 575,087 216 192 -23 -58 40%
16 Volvo 224,415 219 195 -24 -61 39%
17 Audi 582,220 190 177 -13 -38 35%
18 Mazda 214,105 186 177 -9 -32 27%
19 Suzuki 172,941 169 165 -4 -20 22%
20 Nissan 332,742 177 172 -5 -26 20%




Ah but they are all actually REDUCING. And without enforcement either. THis is voluntary remember, not some federally mandated CAFE legislation that all the manufacturers are lobbying to removed....

Notice how well Ford and GM (Opel/Vauxhall) are doing when they're not spending all their money on lobbying to get the laws changed? Makes you wonder what they could do in the US doens't it?

Sid Hoffman

It's also good to see that othe than VW, all the automakers with over a million units sold dominate the list. So it's not just a lot of automakers are on or cloes to on target, but when weighted by sales, it's a very promising picture since the companies best reaching their targets are the ones leading in vehicle sales too. Further proof that reducing GHG doesn't reduce vehicle sales.


They should just tax gas more. Then people will naturally gravitate towards more fuel-efficient vehicles and will use them more efficiently by carpooling and combining trips.

If I buy an SUV and fill it with people, it gets pretty good passenger-miles-per-gallon, better than any non-hybrid with just the driver occupying the vehicle.

Harvey D.

Is this based on ALL cars/SUVs/light trucks sold by the stated manufactures?

If so, the vehicle and engine type mix makes all the difference. To look good, one has to stop selling too many gas guzzlers and concentrate on units with the best fuel economy. Ford can do that with the Focus. The small German GM is also a good candidate.

Wonder why Honda and Toyota are not pushing their excellent fuel economy cars (and Hybrids) in Europe. Nissan is no surprise with their muscle cars and VUS. Going Diesel may help them in the coming years.


Fuel is already expensive in Europe (due to tax). Hybrids are expensive due to manufacturing and lack of subsidies. They are not bought due to competition from diesels. If people want an economical car in Europe, they buy a diesel or a smaller car.
The pressure for more economial cars has only been on for about 3-4 years and it takes a while for companies to change their strategies.
As long as fuel remains expensive, most companies should hit the 140 target ( I woud hope ).


Interesting that the standards for gas and diesel are different. While people tout the gas mileage advantages of diesel, they fail to account for the differences in grams of co2 per km. So a gasoline hybrid getting the same mpg as a diesel is far superior in terms of co2 emissions, not to mention the other pollutants.

John McConnell


Could you explain about the difference in grams of co2 per km when comparing gas & diesel? Does this difference still exist with biodiesel -- I'm curious.

Sid Hoffman

Diesel is a heavier fuel (6.75 lbs/gal vs 6.0 lbs/gal) versus gasoline. It contains more carbon and thus produces more CO2 per gallon. Thus, they have the SAME standard since they both have to meet 140g/km. Biodiesel is similar in carbon density to petro diesel, so to meet that same 140g/km target it will need about the same volumetric fuel consumption.

Rafael Seidl

The fine print of the ACEA commitment technically gives carmakers a few reasons (e.g. tougher safety standards) to argue for leniency, but voters and regulators will probably only look at the headline number and conclude those dastardly carmakers are trying to pull a fast one on them.

This is a pity, because the main reason the trendline is above target is consumer demand for larger, comfier, heavier vehicles with better acceleration. Really frugal cars like the VW Lupo flopped in the market, while ambitious concepts like the all-aluminium Audi A2 subcompact proved too expensive.

If regulators decide they really need to regulate CO2 emissions, they should consider the following: instead of a fleet average of 120 g CO/km by 2012, set the target at 140 (the trends sugest this is entirely feasible). However, also set a per-vehicle cap of 1.5 x fleet average = 210 g CO2/km. For reference, that would translate to a *minimum* of 26MPG on gasoline and 30MPG on diesel in the NEDC test cycle. However, all brands should be subject to the same regulations, including the Japanese and Korean ones.

The above would apply to the M1 class, i.e. 4-wheeled vehicles for a driver and up to 8 passengers, with a GVW <3500kg. Corresponding limits would be required for other classes of motor vehicles.

Mandating a per-vehicle cap would force each carmaker to quickly and radically redefine its concept of what constitutes a luxury vehicle. The top-of-the-line models tend to define the brand identity that shapes long-term customer aspirations. Thus, a per-vehicle cap would in effect force carmakers to spend their marketing budgets on somehow making fuel economy more desireable than raw performance and other traditional value attributes. Necessity being the mother of invention, the engineered solutions would quickly trickle down to cheaper models to amortize R&D and production tooling costs.

t -

the g CO2/km benchmark was actually introduced to establish a single metric for both gasoline and diesel. Diesel's H-to-C ratio is slightly worse due to the longer carbon chains, which explains the difference when expressed in the traditional l/100km. Note, however, that diesel also contains 12% more energy per volume due to its higher density, plus diesel engines are more efficient. Indeed, without diesels the fleet average fuel economy would not have gone down much at all. CNG is beginning to help to some extent, and carmakers argue that biofuels should be included in the assessment.

Btw, only ~1% of new registrations in the US are hybrids, compared to ~50% diesels in Europe. Having superior technology is one thing, actually selling & shipping it quite another. The aggregate effect on CO2 mitigation is definitely greater in Europe. Wrt the other emissions (esp. NOx now that DPFs are available), you have a point.


Meant to say that the mpg of diesel must be greater than the mpg of gas to meet the same standards. Didn't mean to say the standards are different, only that the performance parameters are different to meet the same standards. Therefore, if the mpg of a hybrid is equal to the mpg of a diesel, the co2 for a hybrid is less.

Therefore, when setting cafe standards, treating diesel equal to gas may be a mistake if one's concerns are overall co2 emissions. At least the europeans seem to recognize this in setting goals.


Hybrid and PHEV technology can give superior acceleration (and engine-off A/C operation, and a bunch of other niceties) while improving economy.  If CO2 reductions become mandatory, watch for everything to go PHEV.


Lexus announced a big rise in UK sales recently of circa 25%. All driven by sales of the RX and GS hybrids apparently.

Fuel is already taxed heavily in Europe thanks: I paid 6.50USD for a USGall of 98RON petrol yesterday. That is high-ish but not abnormal. Prices have been over 6USD/USG for ages!!


In practical terms, hype of EU policymakers to curb GHG emissions have near zero results. Car manufacturers are too just dragging thief feet, as anyone else. Decrease of vehicular CO2 emissions are attributed solely to progress in improved fuel efficiency, not the desire to reduce CO2 emissions. Yes, in US this improvement is leveled to bigger, safer, and more powerful cars, along with drive to totally unnecessary SUV commuters.

It is clearly bogus to expect that high-performance luxury Beemer will have same fuel consumption as Fiat econobox. And any ICE have it theoretical limit, so from point of view of nullifying GHG emission, reliance on diesel engine improvements is clearly dead end. Sadly, European carmakers are actively fighting (yet silently developing) hybrid technology, which is the only one to hold a promise ( via PHEV to BEV, FCEV, or whatever) to achieve the goal of near-zero vehicular CO2 emissions.


Why do you think larger car mnufacturers have:

a) invested in more efficient and smaller engines (even for large cars) and

b) invested in smaller model ranges to even out their fleets? eg BMW 1 series and New Mini.

I think the results prove that your "near zero" statement is incorrect. And this is voluntary too remember.



"Bigger" - yes

"Safer" - not always. Chassis dynamics of European spec cars generally provide a hign level of active saftey. NCAP safety rating has pushed up passive saftey markedly in the last years.

One thing you might be forgeting. The CO2 limit is based on a drive cycle to 110km/h (NEDC) with most between 30 and 70km/h. The actual difference in energy required for a heavier car in not so great in outringt terms, so perhaps the BMW's and Mercedes could also show some technical prowess by "demonstating" that 120 or 140g CO2 is "not so difficult" even with big high horsepower engines.



Sorry, The high speed section of th NEDC reach for a few seconds 120km/h

Barry R. Guthrie

Perhaps instead of a gas fuel tax you have a car purchase surcharge tax like we do with luxury gas guzzler vehicles that would be based on how well the CO2 g/km target is achieved. This provides the manufacturers a very big incentive to improve their engines. This would be a very big driver of their car sale and much more powerful to affect real engine manufacturing improvements than a gas fuel tax.

Barry R. Guthrie

Actually I could see both a fuel tax and a car sales tax both being used.

The car manufacturers and engine researchers need to have financial support for research and development programs to develop and test new innovative technologies. This is where a regulated and monitored fuel tax can provide needed funding.

However, the fuel tax is not enough. We have seen this going on for a long time with very little result improvements. To set CAFE limits on mpg standards does not work. The car companies can not achieve them within the implementation horizons. However, adding a CO2 g/km sales tax based on your use of fuel tax R&D funding to achieve real results does create a competitive incentive that will directly impact their car sales.


To set CAFE Limits does not work as manufactures cannot achieve them? You've been listening to lobby groups too much. The data above PROVE that reductions are possible. Even, in this case, without compulsion

Barry R. Guthrie

For sure CAFE reductions are technologically possible and available now, but try and convince and make the oil/auto cartel/investors to follow them. The oil/auto cartel/investors and lobby groups have no real incentive to greatly improve CAFE mpg improvements. This type of fuel tax and sales tax based on meeting real CO2 g/km targets that are measurable makes a real implementable high impacting change program that is effective in reaching these goals.


>The oil/auto cartel/investors and lobby groups have no >real incentive

That's what Governments are for!! Oh sorry I forgot, you have a Government run by Industry lackeys... ;-)

Barry R. Guthrie

Even with all our industry and government imperfections, and we have many, our nation and government are still the best in the world. However, we are nothing without the grace of God and Lord Jesus Christ!


CO2: What counts? The C02 average of all cars sold of a brand p.a. or the fleet average?

Why does Merc or Bmw sell smal cars like the Smart or Mini? To bring the CO2 fleet average down? Merc even accepts hughes losses in selling Smats. Why?

That was the reason for that dirty Diesel Lupo or Audi A2? Reduce the fleet average of the whole fleet?

In some European countries the fleet average of Diesel cars is now almost the same as of the patrol guzzlers (1-2% diff.).It´s a Diesel-progress, isn´t it?

At least the car makers increased the profit per car selling Diesels.

Btw, in the old stories Jesus was walking! Should we follow our hero?

Barry R. Guthrie

I'm for anything that helps reduce our CO2 emissions. As we are all now finding out this is a bigger problem than just higher fuel costs.

Yes we should always follow Jesus.
Walking more is also healthier. :-;

I think Jesus would want us all to work toward developing and implementing technologies that save God's creation not destroy it. I believe that the Holy Spirit is guiding and inspiring many different people with great ideas that address the CO2 technological problems with some very innovative concepts. This web site is a great example of all the various technologies that are being developed. I think over the next few years we will see a mixture of a number of different technologies come into the market place that offer great performance as well as low CO2 emissions. We are living in a very exciting time and are fortunate to be able to experience such great new technologies that weren't available in Jesus’ time. I think that Jesus would want us to live life to the fullest and enjoy all these great new engine and car technologies. However, we will also be held accountable for our actions and need to be faithful and obedient. The key is how to repent spiritually and implement all these great ideas before we are raptured. :-)

The comments to this entry are closed.