According to Transport & Environment’s (T&E) latest How clean are Europe’s cars? report, Nissan was the best performer in improving fuel efficiency since 2008, cutting emissions by an average of 5.5% per year.

However, all the cars sold in 2014 saw a reduction in CO2 emissions of just 2.6% on 2013, below the average improvement since EU regulations were proposed. Carmakers had previously reported an average reduction of 3.6% per year since 2007.

T&E also reported manufacturers may be “gaming” emissions tests, with cars proving far more efficient in laboratories than on the road.

Official test figures show a steady reduction in emissions, but T&E reports less than 2% improvements were seen per year among motorists, highlighting a growing gap between official tests and actual performance.

Protecting motorists

Clean vehicles manager at T&E, Greg Archer, called on politicians to introduce a new test cycle, the World Light Duty Test Procedure, in 2017.

Archer added: “Lawmakers should protect motorists from auto manufacturers gaming official tests.

“We need the need the new test to be introduced without further delay and end the current abuse of an obsolete system. Ultimately, the new test will provide a more level playing field for good performers to be rewarded for their good work.”

Current emissions tests are run under a 40-year-old system. T&E said that some carmakers want to delay the introduction of a new test cycle until 2021. Under the current system many carmakers are on target to reach the EU CO2 target of 95g/km by 2021.

Peugeot Citroën, Volvo, Toyota, Nissan and Daimler were all ahead of schedule to reach the 95g/km goal before 2021 with Ford, Renault and Volkswagen still on track to meet the target. Peugeot Citroën was the strongest overall performer with average vehicle CO2 emissions in 2014 of 110g/km, a reduction of 4.8% on 2013.

The report found Honda, Hyundai and General Motors were all significantly behind and yet to meet their original emissions targets for 2015.

T&E’s 2013 report found Toyota and Volvo were making the most progress towards hitting the EU’s 2021 targets.

Electric vehicles

Nissan’s Leaf was the best-selling electric battery car and its upgraded Qashqai proved an average of 20g/km more efficient. The Japanese manufacturer cut its average vehicle CO2 emissions from 131g/km in 2013 to 115g/km in 2014.

Electric vehicle sales were found to have grown strongly in 2014 to 67,000 sales, which still only represents 0.5% of the market.

Last week T&E called for fuel efficiency standards for new cars, vans and lorries by 2025 in the build-up to the ‘Driving Road Decarbonisation Forwards’ conference on in Brussels on Thursday. T&E claimed setting CO2 emissions standards for vehicles in 2025 and 2030 could deliver a 42% reduction of the emissions reduction required from European transport.

Transport policy manager for T&E William Todts said: “Our research shows one simple fact: without fuel efficiency standards for cars, vans and lorries, EU countries will struggle to meet their 2030 climate obligations. But if the EU sets 2025 standards for cars, vans and trucks, the climate targets could be reached in a way that is good for both the economy and the environment.”

Global competition

In a speech on Friday, European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association President Carlos Ghosn stated it was important to balance the EU’s CO2 emissions agenda while ensuring the targets did not risk the global competitiveness of the European auto sector.

“We need to work with policy makers to protect jobs and growth. We will work constructively with EU policy makers to make this a reality,” said Ghosn.

Matt Field


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