Europeans are buying more efficient cars

New cars sold in 2011 were 3.3 per cent more fuel efficient than those sold in 2010.

Europeans are buying cars that are more efficient. Average carbon dioxide emissions per kilometre continue to fall in Europe, according to preliminary figures released today. The 2011 data from the European Environment Agency (EEA ) also shows that car manufacturers are mostly on track to meeting European Union (EU ) targets.

There were 12.8 million new vehicles registered in the EU in 2011. The average CO2 emissions for these cars was 135.7 grams CO2 per kilometre, which is 4.6g CO2/km less than in 2010 – a reduction of 3.3 per cent. A combination of changes in buying behaviour, improved technology, and engine efficiency was mostly responsible for this reduction, according to EEA analysis.

In addition, the long-term reduction of emissions has been influenced by an increasing uptake of diesel cars, an on-going trend which continued in 2011. The gap between average CO2 emissions of new diesel and petrol vehicles has been narrowing in recent years – in 2011 it was just 3.2g CO2/km. In 2011, 55.2 per cent of the vehicles registered in 2011 in Europe were diesel vehicles, an increase from 51.3 per cent in 2010.

Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the EEA, said: “We can see new cars becoming more efficient year-on-year – a good example of regulation helping industry to make real improvements. It is also encouraging to see sales of electric cars starting to climb.”

In the EU, CO2 emissions from road transport have increased by 23 per cent between 1990 and 2010, becoming responsible for approximately one fifth of the EU's total emissions. In order to cut greenhouse gas emissions from transport, carmakers have a collective target for the average car sold in the EU to emit a maximum of 130g CO2/km by 2015 and 95g CO2/km by 2020.

Last year the EEA reported that manufacturers had some distance to go to meet the 2015 target. However, on present trends, the industry as a whole is on track to meeting the 2015 CO2 target.

The preliminary figures will now be verified by car manufacturers before they are confirmed by the European Commission later this year.


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