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EEA: Fuel efficiency improvements of new cars in Europe slowed in 2016

The fuel efficiency of new cars sold in the European Union (EU) continued to improve last year but at a slower rate, according to provisional data from the European Environment Agency. The 1.4 g of CO2/km reduction (-1.2%) compared to 2015 constitutes the smallest annual improvement recorded over the last decade.

Official emissions have decreased by a total of more than 22 g CO2/km (-16%) since 2010, when an updated monitoring system started under the current EU legislation. The EU remains well below its target of 130 g CO2/km set for 2015; however, compared to 2016, annual improvements in vehicle efficiency need to increase significantly in each of the coming five years in order to achieve the second average emissions target of 95 g CO2/km by 2021.

CO2 car emissions-2
Source: EEA. Click to enlarge.

With an average of 118.1 g CO2/km, new cars sold in 2016 emitted more than 23 g CO2/km above the 2021 target, according to the provisional emissions reported by Member States.

A total of 14.7 million new passenger cars were registered—an increase of almost 7% compared to 2015. Registrations increased in all EU Member States except in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Slovenia.

For the second successive year, the share of diesel vehicle sales declined and in 2016 fell below 50% of new sales—the lowest share of new sales since 2009 according to the official statistics. While the overall share of diesel vehicle sales fell, absolute sales still increased by more than 192,300 vehicles compared to 2016, according to provisional data. However, diesel cars still remain the most sold vehicle type in the EU representing 49.4% of new sales, followed by gasoline vehicles (47%), and alternatively fueled vehicles (3.3%, including electric vehicles).

Sales of battery electric vehicles continue to increase, but at a significantly slower rate than in earlier years. Around 64,000 pure battery-electric vehicles were registered in 2016, a 13% increase compared to sales of 57,000 in 2015. The largest number of registrations were recorded in France (22 689 vehicles), Germany (11 472 vehicles) and the UK (10 268 vehicles).

Electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles together still remain a small fraction of total sales, accounting for 1.1% of all new cars sold in the EU. Combined sales of these vehicle types fell by around 3,200 vehicles compared to 2015 when they represented 1.2% of registrations.

The two countries that in 2015 had the highest share of plug-in hybrid and battery-electric vehicle sales, the Netherlands and Denmark, both saw significant sales decreases in 2016 of these vehicle types. For example, in the Netherlands, sales fell from 10% of national car sales in 2015 to 6%. Changes to the level of subsidies and tax incentives available for new vehicle owners changed in 2016 in both countries, directly contributing to lower shares.

The mass of a vehicle is a key factor affecting emissions, as heavier vehicles tend to emit more CO2/km. In comparison with 2015, the average mass of new cars sold in 2016 in the EU increased slightly to reach 1,388 kg. The increase affected the average mass of gasoline vehicles (by 1.5%) in particular, which in turn resulted in smaller decrease of average emissions of these vehicles and, consequently, of new passenger car fleet in 2016.

On average, the heaviest cars were sold in Sweden (1,516 kg), Austria and Luxembourg (1,497 kg), whereas Maltese, Greek and Danish buyers typically purchased lighter cars (1,210, 1,253 and 1,265 kg respectively). The average diesel vehicle sold was 302 kg heavier than the average gasoline vehicle.

Overall, average CO2/km emissions decreased in all countries in 2016, except in the Netherlands, where emissions increased by almost 5% to 106 g CO2/km. However, the Netherlands, together with Portugal (105 g CO2/km), Denmark and Greece (both 106 g CO2/km) remains among the countries having the most fuel-efficient new cars sold. The least fuel-efficient cars continue to be bought in Estonia (134 g CO2/km).



It is a total cod.
The real CO2 figures are probably 30% higher than that, due to the use of the NEDC testing approach which was not designed for CO2 measurement in the first place and has more holes than a Swiss cheese.
The sooner they get a proper "real world" CO2 (and NOx) test, the better. It will cause a few red faces when the Eu Co2/Km level jumps 30%, but better to know the truth than kid yourself. Also, the test regime needs to include some mix of pollutants, not just CO2. AT the very least, it should include NOx and CO2 (in some proportion) to discourage the use of diesels in cities.


Why does the EU seem to be losing its mind over high real-world NOx emissions from diesel vehicles, but seems to be completely unconcerned about high real-world CO and PN emissions from petrol vehicles, especially GDI (well above the Euro 6 regulatory limit)?


Misplaced priorities, Carl.

Mahonj, national km-driven and net fuel consumption figures should not be too hard to come by (US figures are widely published).  You ought to be able to check this.

As for me, I'm still averaging in excess of 130 MPG (liquid fuel only) which, at 19.64 lbCO2/gallon, is 68.5 gCO2/mile or 42.6 gCO2/km.  I could do as well or better if charging was more available, and so could most people.  What we need to do this is (a) ubiquitous PHEVs and (b) carbon-free electric power available on demand.


I tried and failed to find EU wide figures. As you say, the US publishes them, but the EU ones are harder to find. If you find some, I would be pleased to see them.

I agree on the PHEV angle, it seems like the best solution to the range / battery size problem (if a little expensive).

IMO, what you need is a simple way to recharge where you park at work. Better still, a smart charger that charges when demand is low(est), or there is a lot of wind or solar on the grid.

If your commute is short, you could just charge at night.
BTW, what do you drive ?


I have a Ford Fusion Energi.  I'm glad that warm weather has finally come back to 45 degrees N, because my electric-only range just went up by about 50%.

"Smart charging" doesn't work with PHEVs, because they need to charge after almost every trip and if they're not charged before the next trip you WILL be running on liquid fuel.  Carbonically, you are better off burning NG in a CCGT than burning gasoline.  The best bets are nuclear and hydro, though.

The two things PHEVs can do for the grid are spinning reserve and down-regulation.  Say, you have 4 kW of charging capacity but you use it at 50% duty cycle to even out lulls in other demand.  You can also drop the chargers off the grid in half a cycle.  This increases the effective reserve margin and allows plants to run at best efficiency.


@EP, I don't see why "smart charging" wouldn't work for PHEVs.
Lets say you park at 9am and need the car back by 5pm, and have 7 KwH capacity that needs to be replenished.

All you need to do is to get it in by 5pm at the lowest cost or lowest CO2 times. You have less time than an overnight smart charge, but the same principles apply, and you are taking up less power at each charge.

Here's a question: where should the smart charge intelligence be - in the car, or in the charger ?

Lets say you park at 9am and need the car back by 5pm, and have 7 KwH capacity that needs to be replenished.

And if it's a cloudy day with low or no wind, you have little or no renewable power that entire day.  It doesn't matter if the wind is forecast to come up around 7 PM, because you needed it on-line no later than 3 (assuming 240 VAC 16 A charging).

PHEVs can do regulation and spinning reserve.  They can't really do much in the way of time-shifting.


@EP, sure: you have to get the battery charged, that is the prime directive. IF there is excess wind or solar, you use that, else you just charge. The system would have access to predicted wind (or solar) availability over the next 8 (or whatever) hours to plan the charge.
Here is an example of predicted wind availability (in Ireland).
(Not much wind today).

Thomas Lankester

You can't just go around redefining terms willy-nilly.
The primer directive is to not contact civilisations without warp drive...


Found the basement-dwelling Trekkie.


A fair point: the battery charged OK, but the natives terrified and worshiping it.

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