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New cars sold in Europe in 2011 were 3.3% more fuel efficient than those sold in 2010; increasing diesel uptake

Average carbon dioxide emissions per kilometer continue to fall in Europe, according to preliminary figures released by the European Environment Agency (EEA). The data also show that car manufacturers are mostly on track to meeting European Union (EU) targets.

There were 12.8 million new vehicles registered in the EU in 2011. The average CO2 emissions for these cars was 135.7 grams CO2 per kilometer, which is 4.6g CO2/km less than in 2010—a reduction of 3.3%. A combination of changes in buying behavior, improved technology and engine efficiency was mostly responsible for this reduction, according to EEA analysis.

In addition, the long-term reduction of emissions has been influenced by an increasing uptake of diesel cars, an ongoing trend which continued in 2011. In 2011, 55.2% of the vehicles registered in 2011 in Europe were diesel vehicles, an increase from 51.3% in 2010.

In the EU, CO2 emissions from road transport have increased by 23% between 1990 and 2010, becoming responsible for approximately one fifth of the EU’s total emissions. In order to cut greenhouse gas emissions from transport, carmakers have a collective target for the average car sold in the EU to emit a maximum of 130g CO2/km by 2015 and 95g CO2/km by 2020. Last year the EEA reported that manufacturers had some distance to go to meet the 2015 target. However, on present trends, the industry as a whole is on track to meeting the 2015 CO2 target.

The preliminary figures will now be verified by car manufacturers before they are confirmed by the European Commission later this year.

Other findings of the analysis include:

  • Registration of new cars in the EU increased constantly between 2001 and 2007, peaking at 15.5 million cars, but has fallen continuously since. Between 2010 and 2011 the number of new car registrations increased in many Member States, notably Latvia (71%), Lithuania (68%) and Estonia (66%) , but fell in others, including Greece (-31 %), Portugal (-31%) and Spain (-17 %).

  • The mass of new cars increased slightly in 2011 and is now back to the level seen in 2007 before the economic crisis. Nonetheless, engine capacity, measured in cm3, has decreased by 5% compared to 2007.

  • Registrations of vehicles using liquefied petroleum gas fell by 76% between 2010 and 2011. This was mostly due to a sharp decline in uptake in France and Italy, countries where this fuel is most commonly used.

  • There were 8,700 pure electric cars registered in 2011. While this number is only 0.07% of new cars registered, so did not significantly influence the EU average emissions, it is a 10-fold increase on 2010.

  • Portugal, Malta and Denmark had registered the most carbon-efficient cars on average, with emissions of 125g CO2/km or less. At the less efficient end of the spectrum, new cars registered in Estonia, Latvia and Bulgaria had more than 150g CO2/km on average.



CO2 may be down with the use of more diesel powered units but total air pollution may have gone up. Total Air pollution from diesels is often worse for our health than from new gasoline engines.

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