Reducing CO2 emissions from passenger cars

Cars are responsible for around 12% of total EU emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas.

Since 2009, EU legislation sets mandatory emission reduction targets for new cars. The first targets apply since 2015. Stricter targets will apply from 2021 on, with a phase-in from 2020.

On 17 April 2019, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Regulation (EU) 2019/631 setting CO2 emission performance standards for new passenger cars and for new light commercial vehicles (vans) in the EU for the period after 2020. The new Regulation will start applying on 1 January 2020.

Until that date, the current Regulation setting CO2 emission standards for cars will apply, as summarised on this page.

2015 target

Since 2015, a target of 130 grams of CO2 per kilometre applies for the EU fleet-wide average emission of new passenger cars.

Emissions of 130 g CO2/km correspond to a fuel consumption of around 5.6 litres per 100 km (l/100 km) of petrol or 4.9 l/100 km of diesel.

This EU fleet-wide target was already reached in 2013, two years ahead of schedule.

According to provisional data, the average emissions level of the new cars registered in 2018 in the EU and Iceland were 120.4 g CO2/km (EEA data). Since 2010, average emissions have decreased by 20 g CO2/km (14.2%).

2021 target

From 2021, phased in from 2020, the EU fleet-wide average emission target for new cars will be 95 g CO2/km.

This emission level corresponds to a fuel consumption of around 4.1 l/100 km of petrol or 3.6 l/100 km of diesel.

Specific emission targets for manufacturers

The binding emission targets for manufacturers are set according to the average mass of their vehicles, using a limit value curve. This means that manufacturers of heavier cars are allowed higher emissions than manufacturers of lighter cars. The curve is set in such a way that the targets for the EU fleet-wide average emissions are achieved.

Phase-in of requirements

The target of 130 g/km was phased in between 2012 and 2015.

A phase-in period will also apply to the target of 95 g/km. In 2020, the emission targets will apply for each manufacturer’s 95% least emitting new cars. From 2021 on, the average emissions of all newly registered cars of a manufacturer will have to be below the target.

Penalty payments for excess emissions

If the average CO2 emissions of a manufacturer’s fleet exceed its target in a given year, the manufacturer has to pay an excess emissions premium for each car registered.

Until 2018, this premium amounts to

  • €5 for the first g/km of exceedance
  • €15 for the second g/km
  • €25 for the third g/km
  • €95 for each subsequent g/km.

From 2019 on, the penalty will be €95 for each g/km of target exceedance.


To encourage eco-innovation, manufacturers can be granted emission credits for vehicles equipped with innovative technologies for which it is not possible to demonstrate the CO2-reducing effects during the test procedure used for vehicle type approval.

Such emission savings have to be demonstrated based on independently verified data. The maximum emission credits for these eco-innovations per manufacturer are 7 g/km per year.

Super credits

Manufacturers are given additional incentives to put on the market zero- and low-emission cars emitting less than 50 g/km through a “super-credits” system. This already applied between 2012 and 2015 and will apply again for the period 2020-2022.

For the purpose of calculating a manufacturer’s average specific emissions, such cars will then be counted as:

  • 2 vehicles in 2020
  • 1.67 vehicles in 2021
  • 1.33 vehicles in 2022.

A cap on the super-credits is set at 7.5 g/km per manufacturer over the three years.

Manufacturer Pools

Manufacturers can group together and act jointly to meet their emissions target. In forming such a pool, manufacturers must respect the rules of competition law.

Derogations and exemptions

Manufacturers responsible for fewer than 300 000 new passenger cars registered in the EU in a given year may benefit from exemptions or derogations.

More specifically:

  • Manufacturers responsible for between 10 000 and 300 000 cars registered per year (“niche” manufacturers) can apply for a derogation target for the years 2012-2019 equal to a 25% reduction from their 2007 average emissions, and a derogation target from 2020 on of a 45% reduction from the 2007 level.
  • Manufacturers responsible for between 1 000 and 10 000 cars registered per year (“small volume” manufacturers) can propose their own derogation target, which has to be approved by the Commission based on the criteria set in the Regulation.
  • Manufacturers responsible for fewer than 1 000 cars registered per year are exempted from meeting a specific emissions target, unless they voluntarily apply for a derogation target.

Monitoring of emissions

The Commission has set out rules for monitoring the CO2 emissions of new cars. Information on the monitoring results can be found under the Documentation tab.



Source: European Commission

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