Vehicle CO2 efficiency standards

standards for light duty vehicles

Technical Option | Specific Example
Climate | Transport

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Although there are no technical mobile abatement options for CO2 emissions, there are efficiency standards for CO2. European legislation is provided for this as of April 2009 for new passenger cars (Regulation (EC) No 443/2009) as part of the Community’s integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles (LDVs). Key elements of the adopted text include:

  • Limit value curve: the fleet average to be achieved by all cars registered in the EU is 130 grams per kilometre (g/km). A so-called limit value curve implies that heavier cars are allowed higher emissions than lighter cars while preserving the overall fleet average.
  • Phasing-in of requirements: in 2012, 65% of each manufacturer's newly registered cars must comply on average with the limit value curve set by the legislation. This will rise to 75% in 2013, 80% in 2014, and 100% from 2015 onwards.
  • Lower penalty payments for small excess emissions until 2018: If the average CO2 emissions of a manufacturer's fleet exceed its limit value in any year from 2012, the manufacturer has to pay an excess emissions premium for each car registered. This premium amounts to €5 for the first g/km of exceedance, €15 for the second g/km, €25 for the third g/km, and €95 for each subsequent g/km. From 2019, already the first g/km of exceedance will cost €95.
  • Long-term target: a target of 95g/km is specified for the year 2020. The modalities for reaching this target and the aspects of its implementation including the excess emissions premium will have to be defined in a review to be completed no later than the beginning of 2013.
  • Eco-innovations: because the test procedure used for vehicle type approval is outdated, certain innovative technologies cannot demonstrate their CO2-reducing effects under the type approval test. As an interim procedure until the test procedure is reviewed by 2014, manufacturers can be granted a maximum of 7g/km of emission credits on average for their fleet if they equip vehicles with innovative technologies, based on independently verified data.


This measure is implemented at the EU level, the details of which are outlined above, where a limit value curve is set which car manufacturers must comply with over a number of phased stages. In the presence of non-compliance or excess emissions, a number of penalty payments are in place.


The Commission's proposal will reduce the average emissions of CO2 from new passenger cars in the EU from around 160 grams per kilometre to 130 grams per kilometre in 2012. That will translate into a 19% reduction of CO2 emissions intensity and will place the EU among the world leaders of fuel efficient cars. The proposal will also benefit consumers through important fuel savings. It will further improve energy security, promote eco-innovations and high-quality jobs in the EU.

Although these measures are expected to have a positive impact in terms of reducing emissions, a comprehensive analysis of the impact by their recent design and implementation. However, there are a number of supporting studies that reinforce the necessity of this strategy (referenced below).

Costs & Benefits

Costs and benefits of this measure associated with this measure are listed as follows:

Cost of designing and producing greater CO2 efficient vehicles and fitting technology to the vehicles in production, Costs of technology development

Reduced emission levels with all associated benefits

Evidence & Reference

  • Assessment with respect to long term CO2 emission targets for passenger cars and vans

  • Assessment for the options for the legislation of CO2 emissions from light commercial vehicles

  • Impacts of regulatory options to reduce CO2 emissions from cars, in particular on car manufacturers

  • Possible regulatory approaches to reducing CO2 emissions from cars

  • Results of TREMOVE runs carried out in preparation of the review of the CO2 and cars strategy

Modelling this Measure

Modelling this measure will require the estimation of the impact of these changes on fleet structure and associated fuel use and emissions.

Site Entry Created by J A Kelly on Aug 19, 2010

Reference This Source (2019). Vehicle CO2 efficiency standards. Available: Last accessed: 24th April 2019

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