2020-2030 CO2 standards for new cars and light-commercial vehicles in the European Union

Published: 2017.10.26

Peter Mock

New passenger cars and light-commercial vehicles (vans) in the European Union are subject to mandatory carbon dioxide standards until 2020–2021. The European Commission, European Parliament, and EU member states are preparing to extend the light-duty vehicles’ CO2 regulation out to 2025–2030. This briefing paper summarizes key findings from relevant previous ICCT studies and other research, related to technology potential and associated compliance cost, the role of electrified vehicles, and the switch to a new emissions testing procedure.

CO2 standards have proven effective for driving down test-cycle emission levels of new vehicles. To meet Europe's climate targets, however, the annual rate of reduction of CO2 emissions for vehicles coming to the market in 2020-2030 needs to be significantly higher than in previous years. In addition, the gap between official test cycle and real on-road emission levels needs to be reduced by putting a stronger emphasis on regulatory enforcement.

As previous ICCT work has shown, and this briefing outlines, from a technical and economic perspective stronger CO2 reduction efforts are feasible. A 70 g/km NEDC target for new cars by 2025 can be reached largely without electrification and with a payback period of two to four years. Accelerated deployment of electric vehicles will help to further reduce compliance cost for meeting 2020-2030 CO2 emission targets. A 17% electric vehicle share by 2025 would reduce compliance cost by approximately €350 per vehicle. A lower share of diesel cars will be no hurdle for greenhouse gas reductions and is likely to drive further acceleration of electric-vehicle deployment and further reduce compliance cost.