Cars sold in 2013 were 4% more efficient than the year before, according to provisional data from the European Environment Agency (EEA). Average carbon dioxide emissions per kilometer have continued to fall, and in 2013 the European Union fleet already collectively met its legal target for 2015.

The average CO2 emissions level of a new car sold in 2013 was 127 g of carbon dioxide per kilometer, significantly below the 2015 target of 130 g, according to provisional data. However, manufacturers will have to keep reducing emissions levels to meet the target of 95 g CO2/km by 2021.

“The average car sold last year was almost 10% more efficient than the average car sold in 2010, when monitoring started,” said Hans Bruyninckx, executive director. “This is good news. But passenger transport still generates a significant part of total greenhouse gas emissions of the EU, so we need to think about more sustainable transport systems."

Key findings in the study include:

  • Notably, new cars have become more efficient despite an increase in the average mass. The main drivers of efficiency have been technological improvements and higher sales of diesel cars, which typically have lower emissions levels than petrol equivalents. However, the preference for diesel seems to be falling, making up just over half the cars sold in 2013.
  • The efficiency gap between new gas and diesel vehicles has been decreasing in recent years. Compared to the current levels, the average emissions gap between gas and diesel was more than 10 times higher in 2000.
  • There were 11.8 million new cars registered in the EU in 2013. This figure has declined continuously since its peak in 2007, when 15.5 million vehicles were registered.
  • There were 24,000 electric vehicles registered in 2013, which is a small fraction of the fleet but which represents a 71% increase on 2012 numbers. Around 31,000 plug-in hybrid cars were registered in 2013.
  • On average, the most efficient cars were bought in the Netherlands (109 g CO2/km), Greece (111 g) and Portugal (112 g) while the country selling the least efficient cars was Latvia (147 g), followed by Estonia (147 g) and Bulgaria (142 g). The biggest cars, measured by mass, were bought in Latvia, Sweden and Luxembourg. People in Malta, Denmark and Greece bought the lightest models on average.
  • There seem to be two distinct markets in Europe, with older EU Member States buying significantly more efficient models compared to newer members.

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