Preliminary data published by the European Environment Agency (EEA) shows average emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) fell by less than 1 gramme (g) of CO2 per kilometre. This is the smallest annual reduction since monitoring of emissions from new light commercial vehicles started in 2012.
The average van registered in 2015 emitted 168.2 g CO2/km which is 0.9 g less than in 2014. While the reported annual reduction is small, emissions are nevertheless well below the EU’s 2017 target of 175 g CO2/km. This target was already met in 2013. Further efficiency improvements still need to be achieved to reach the EU’s more stringent target of 147 g CO2/km set for 2020.
The EEA collects and regularly publish data on new light commercial vehicles registered in Europe, in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 510/2011. The data reported by all member states in order to evaluate the efficiency of the new vehicle fleet includes information on CO2 emissions and vehicle weight.
It has not yet been confirmed whether different manufacturers have met their own specific annual targets, based on the average weight of the light commercial vehicles they sell. Part of the reason for the small annual reduction observed in 2015 was due to regulatory changes in France. Companies can no longer register company cars as light commercial vehicles as a result of which the share of lower emitting vehicles in the total number of newly registered vans in France has decreased. The EEA will publish the final data on manufacturers’ individual performances as well as additional assessment of the data in the autumn. Manufacturers now have three months to verify the preliminary data and notify errors to the European Commission.
Member states report new vehicles’ CO2 emission levels, measured under standardised laboratory conditions, following the requirements of the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) test procedure. This procedure is designed to allow a comparison of emissions for different manufacturers. However, there is now wide recognition that the NEDC test procedure, dating from the 1970s, is out-dated and does not necessarily represent real-world driving conditions and emissions due inter alia to a number of flexibilities that allow vehicle manufacturers to optimise the conditions under which their vehicles are tested.
Recognising these shortcomings, in January 2016 the European Commission proposed a number of changes to the current vehicle type-approval framework. A new procedure known as the ‘Worldwide harmonised Light vehicles Test Procedure’ (WLTP) will be introduced in the future so that laboratory results better represent actual vehicle performance on the road. However, the date of its introduction remains to be decided.