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EU parliament passes new car CO2 legislation

Average CO2 emissions from new cars must be slashed to 130g/km by 2015, the equivalent of achieving 58mpg with a diesel engine and 52mpg in a petrol car.

The EU new car CO2 legislation passed by the European parliament sets out a tough programme for car manufacturers with 65% of new cars averaging the 130g/km target by 2012, 75% by 2013, 80% by 2014 and 100% by 2015. An additional 10g/km must be achieved by complementary measures like alternative fuels and tyre pressure monitoring systems. Manufacturers exceeding the targets will be heavily fined per additional gram of CO2 emitted, for every car registered across Europe.

Small volume (below 10,000 units per year) will have tough individual targets set while niche manufacturers (10,000 to 300,000 units per year) are expected to deliver a 25% reduction of the 2007 figure. With the UK home to more than ten small volume and niche manufacturers, the provision serves to protect the diversity and dynamism of the sector.

Commenting, SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said: “This is an ambitious piece of legislation presenting a tough challenge to the automotive industry. We share the environmental objectives and welcome the long-term framework the legislation sets out.”

“The sector has already made significant progress in improving the environmental impact of its products and this legislation places an even greater premium on innovation, skills and training in order to meet these commitments. At a time of economic uncertainty, it underlines the importance of long-term investment in the sector.”

The overall cut to 120g/km represents a 24.3% reduction on current average UK new car CO2 emissions. There are currently 69 model ranges on the UK market already meeting the 120g/km CO2 emissions target.

In 2007, 5.4% of new cars registered emitted less than 120g/km – that figure has doubled to 10.9% of the market to November 2008 as the number of available models increases. Average UK new car CO2 emissions have fallen from nearly 190g/km in 1997 to 158.6g/km in 2008 – a fall of 16.4%.