Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transport sector is a key priority for the EU. The transport sector is responsible for about one third of the total CO2 emissions in the EU, and it has not seen the same reduction in emissions as other sectors. 

What the data are telling us

  • Compared to 2020, 2021 saw the average CO2 emissions of new registered passenger cars fall by 12.5% to 114.1g CO2/km (WLTP). The main reason for this steep decrease is a growing share of electric vehicle (EV) registrations, which almost doubled from 11.6% in 2020  to 19% in 2021, with 10% full electric vehicles and 9% plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Norway, Iceland and Sweden had the largest percentage of electric vehicles in the new car fleets in 2021 (86%, 55% and 46%, respectively). 

  • Petrol cars continued to be the most sold type of new passenger cars in 2021, constituting half of all new registrations, followed by diesel cars (23%). 

  • Average CO2 emissions of new vans registered in Europe steadily fell in the past years: a 2% reduction in 2020 was followed by a drop of 3.5% in 2021, reaching an average of 193.3g CO2/km (WLTP). The main reason for this trend is the growing share of electric vehicle (EV) registrations, which increased from 2.3% in 2020 to 3.5% in 2021. Of these, 3.4% were full electric vehicles, with Norway, Iceland and Sweden having the highest shares (17.3%; 8.2% and 8.1% of their total new vans fleets, respectively). 

  • Most individual car and van manufacturers and all pools of manufacturers met their binding targets in 2021. 

To reduce CO2 emissions in the road transport sector, the European Parliament and the Council adopted regulations introducing mandatory CO2 emission performance standards for new passenger cars and new light commercial vehicles. Regulation (EU) No 2019/631 sets EU fleet-wide targets for average emissions of 95 g CO2/km for new passenger cars and 147 g CO2/km for new light commercial vehicles for the period after 2020. The EU fleet-wide targets for 2025 and 2030 are defined as a percentage reduction of the 2021 starting point. From 2025 onwards, Regulation (EU) 2019/631 sets stricter EU-wide fleet targets: for passenger cars, 93.6g/km from 2025 (15% reduction compared to the 2021 baseline), 49.5g/km from 2030 (55% reduction) and 0g/km from 2035 (100% reduction); for vans, 153.9g/km from 2025 (15% reduction compared to the 2021 baseline), 90.6g/km from 2030 (50% reduction) and 0g/km from 2035 (100% reduction). 

Where the data come from

According to the regulations, data on new registrations of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, including their CO2 emissions, are to be collected each year by Member States and submitted to the European Commission. Manufacturers can verify the data and notify the Commission of any errors identified in the data set. The Commission assesses the manufacturers’ corrections, and, where justified, takes them into account in calculating their average CO2 emissions and specific emission targets.