Potential for CO2 equivalent emission reduction in future passenger car fleet scenarios in Europe

Thu Trang Nguyen*, Mario Hirz, Helmut Brunner, Alexander Rust, Johann Bachler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The CO2 emission performance standards (CO2 standards) set limits for fleets of new cars sold in Europe at 95 gCO2/km in 2021 and targeted 59 gCO2/km in 2030. Furthermore, the European Green Deal aims to reduce at least 55% total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the continent by 2030. These legislations will undoubtedly shape future passenger car fleets in Europe. However, the current standards are solely based on Tank-to-Wheel (TTW) analysis, even though other stages of the product life cycle (LC) can contribute significantly to the overall emissions. Therefore, this paper aims at answering the question: what are possible GHG emission reduction potentials, measured by CO2 equivalent (CO2eq), over the whole LC of future EU-wide passenger car fleets that meet the CO2 standards? Firstly, LC CO2eq emissions of several state-of-the-art propulsion systems are examined. The technologies considered are internal combustion engine, battery electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel-cell. Data on CO2eq emissions in different LC stages are identified via literature review and own calculations. Reduction potentials of the technologies are addressed for three scenarios, namely 2020 as a basis, 2030, and 2050. Secondly, fleet configurations are defined for the years 2020 and 2030 in order to meet the CO2 standards, by considering specific TTW CO2 emissions of the technologies and their shares in the EU passenger car fleet. Finally, LC CO2eq emissions of possible future fleets are calculated. The results indicate that only increasing the number of low emission vehicles entering the fleet until 2050 will not be sufficient to achieve the transport GHG emission targets. Other measures such as technology improvements, renewable-based electricity grid and e-fuels, need to be taken into account as well. Moreover, TTW-based analysis does not reflect the whole sectoral emissions, thus Well-to-Wheel or even LC emissions should be considered in legislations.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2021
Event2021 Resource Efficient Vehicles Conference - KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Virtuell, Sweden
Duration: 14 Jun 202116 Jun 2021


Conference2021 Resource Efficient Vehicles Conference
Abbreviated titlerev2021
Internet address


  • CO2 emissions
  • passenger car fleet
  • future scenarios
  • Europe emission targets


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