CO2 emissions from new passenger cars in the European Union: Car manufacturers’ performance in 2018


This briefing provides an overview of CO2 emission levels of new passenger cars in the European Union in 2018 based on a preliminary dataset recently released by the European Environment Agency (EEA). The dataset showed that new cars sold in the EU in 2018 had average CO2 emissions of 121 g CO2/km, 2g/km higher than in 2017.

As of 2018, fleet-average CO2 emissions will have to decline by 7.6% per year to comply with the 2021 emission reduction target. Overall, fleet-average CO2 emissions increased by 2 g/km from 2017 to 2018. Toyota-Mazda had the lowest CO2 emissions out of all major manufacturer pools in 2018 and was the closest to its 2020/21 limit value. Nissan was the only manufacturer to record a decrease in average CO2 emissions. Volvo recorded the largest increase in CO2 emissions at 8 g/km. With 16 g/km (15%) remaining, Toyota-Mazda was the closest to its 2020/21 target in 2018. Hyundai was in the worst position to meet its 2020/21 target, with a 31 g/km (25%) reduction needed to comply, but could pool with its affiliate Kia to make progress toward 2020/21 targets. Fleet-average CO2 emissions will have to decline by 26 g/km (21%) to be compliant with 2020/21 targets.

The 2015 and 2020/21 CO2 standards include super-credits to incentivize the sales of low-emission vehicles that emit less than 50 g CO2/km. In 2018, the impact of applying the 2020 super-credit multiplier of 2.0 would have ranged from 0 g/km to 7 g/km, depending on the manufacturer. Overall, eco-innovation technologies reduced EU-wide CO2 values by less than 0.1 g/km in 2018 and were installed in approximately 532,000 vehicles, approximately 142,000 more than in 2017. The average CO2 emission reduction in vehicles that had eco-innovation technologies installed was 1.46 in 2018. For individual vehicles, the maximum recorded CO2 emission reduction from eco-innovation technologies was 4 g/km in 2018.

A number of factors will affect manufacturers’ compliance with the 2020/21 CO2 targets. These include: lightweighting and improvements in aerodynamic and rolling resistance for conventional combustion engine vehicles, growth in the electric and hybrid electric vehicle market, an increased application of eco-innovation credits, the change in countries counting toward CO2 emission targets, and the creation or modification of manufacturer pools.