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European new car CO2 emissions highest since 2014

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New car CO2 emissions have continued to rise and have hit the highest average since 2014. Only a rapid increase in electric vehicles will reverse this trend, says JATO Dynamics.

Data from the business has revealed that, last year, the volume weighted average CO2 emissions for European markets were at their highest levels since 2014. The average for the 23 European markets totalled 121.8g/km under the NEDC regime.

Felipe Munoz, JATO Dynamics’ global analyst, said: “As expected, the combination of fewer diesel registrations and more SUVs continued to have an impact on emissions. We don’t anticipate any change to this trend in the mid-term, indeed these results further highlight the industry’s need to adopt EVs at a rapid pace to reach emissions targets.”

Average CO2 emissions (NEDC) measured in 2019 increased for the third year running, despite new regulation designed to curtail this. 

The data also shows that although last year’s average was 1.3g/km higher than in 2018, the increase was in fact lower than the difference between the 2017 and 2018 results – where the growth was 2.4g/km.

Despite an increase of electric vehicle (EV) models contributing positively on emission levels, the move away from diesel had a negative impact. 

Munoz said: “The average emissions of electrified vehicles, was 63.2g/km, almost half that produced by diesel and petrol vehicles. The problem arose because EVs only accounted for 6% of total registrations, which is not yet a high enough figure to create a positive change.”

Four of the five major markets in Europe posted higher averages in 2019 than in 2018. Average emissions for Germany, Britain, Italy, and Spain increased, ranging from a rise of 0.8g/km for Germany to an increase of 3.0g/km for Italy. 

JATO believes this was in part caused by marked changes in attitude and regulations around the use of diesel fuels, pushing people to drive higher CO2 emitting petrol vehicles.

France was the only market to see better results, as its average fell from 112.0g/km in 2018, to 111.1g/km last year. Despite this positive change, its emission levels were still higher than the averages they recorded in 2016 and 2017.

Pure electric cars have a 2% market share in France, the highest share among all five major markets. 

Toyota holds its position as the top 20 best-selling brand with the lowest average CO2 emissions in Europe, as well as seeing the largest decrease since 2018, with its average failing by 2.3g/km. 

JATO says Toyota’s success is based on its popular hybrid range, with registrations making up 60% of the brand total volume in 2019.

In the group ranking, Toyota was behind Tesla. Along with Lexus brand, Toyota posted an average of 99.0g/km of CO2 in 2019, 14.3g/km less than the next best in the ranking, PSA. At group level, Nissan Group, Renault Group, Mitsubishi and Suzuki posted average emissions lower than the total market’s average of 121.8g/km. Volkswagen Group recorded an average of 123.6g/km.

Citroen was the brand with the second-lowest average emissions and was the second-best performer.

The average CO2 emissions for SUVs was 131.5g/km, higher than emissions posted from city-cars (107.7g/km), subcompacts (109.2g/km), compacts (115.3g/km), midsize (117.9g/km), and executive cars (131g/km).

“The SUV segment of the market urgently needs more electrified models. To date, the focus for EVs has been on traditional hatchbacks and sedans, leaving very few choices in the SUV market. If these vehicles want to keep gaining traction and avoid future sanctions, they need to be electrified” says Munoz. 

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