Average new car emissions continued on a downward trend in 2014, according to figures published by the European Environment Agency (EEA).
They were 123.4g/km compared to 186g/km in 1995 - a 33.7% decrease over the period. The EEA says this is the result of the long-term efforts of the automobile industry, which have been sustained both with and without legislation.
“Thanks to huge efforts by European automobile manufacturers and billions of euros worth of investment in R&D, Europe’s cars currently meet the highest environmental standards in the world,” stated Erik Jonnaert, secretary general of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA).
It is clear that CO2 emissions from passenger cars need to continue on their downward trend, and the industry is committed to this.
However, because the most cost-efficient actions have already been taken, delivering on that aim requires ever greater technical investments to achieve smaller reductions.
Ensuring further reductions in average CO2 emissions will also be dependent on greater market uptake of alternative powertrains, including electric, hybrid, fuel-cell and natural gas-powered vehicles.
However, as the EEA points out, electric vehicles continue to constitute only a very small, albeit rising, fraction of new registrations (0.3 % according to the EEA).
“Governments across Europe will need to increase their support if we are to see a significant increase in sales, both in terms of helping to build the charging infrastructure necessary and in influencing consumer choices,” said Jonnaert.
“Looking ahead beyond 2020, we need a wider debate involving all stakeholders on a more balanced and effective system for further reducing CO2 emissions from transport.
"For the automobile industry, this means we should not only focus on emissions from the vehicle itself, but also look at other factors influencing emissions during the use of the vehicle.” This includes the carbon content of fuels, driver behaviour, infrastructure and the age of the car fleet."