Low CO2 high MPG efficient cars, regulations for manufacture

Carbon Dioxide in Vehicles

Greenhouse gases including CO2 and methane accumulate in the atmosphere as a result of human activities, including the use of fuels such as oil in combustion engine vehicles. The results of this clauses pollution that ultimately creates global warming and climate change. Unless action is taken soon to reduce these emissions, it could cause further climate change and the results could be catastrophic. These could include flooding, drought, heat waves, storms and natural disasters. The 2008 Climate Change Act sets out legally binding requirements for the reduction of such emissions. The UK government is required to reduce emissions by minimum 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, compared to the 1990 levels in the UK. The Carbon Plan 2011 is the U.K.’s action plan in combating these emissions, and has identified transport is the critical area in the ability to meet these targets.

As far as moving people and goods, transportation is an essential aspect of the country’s economic growth. However it remains a major source of pollution through emissions. Domestic transport accounted for around 24% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2010. Around 90% of this was transportation from vehicles. Regional strategies will use the Carbon Plan to make improvements in the transport sector. Most importantly improving the fuel efficiency and increasing the amount of alternative fuel vehicles such as hydrogen and electric cars was identified as being very important.

Combustion engine vehicles produce CO2 emissions, these emissions increase as more fuel is consumed by the engine. Although many improvements have been made with regard to the emissions and quality of pollutants from vehicles, there has been less progress in the reduction of CO2 from cars. More recently it has been introduced that CO2 emissions are directly linked to the vehicle’s tax banding, this has been a critical aspect to consider for someone who is looking to buy a new vehicle.

Reducing car CO2 emissions

The European commission and industry associations of the major vehicle manufacturers rolled out a strategy in 2008 to reduce the average CO2 emissions of new cars, as cars are responsible for 12% of total EU CO2. The agreement means it can improve emissions by over 25% to 130 g per kilometre of CO2. This will result in the improved fuel consumption and miles per gallon (MPG) of these vehicles.

European regulations (EC Regulation # 443/2009) in 2009 were set to reduce CO2 emissions as follows;

  • Average CO2 emissions of 130 g per kilometre, tax band D will be achieved for all new vehicles by 2015.
  • The average is taken by each, manufacturer based on the types of vehicles they sell in the year. Meaning vehicles may be sold above and below the average.
  • The type of vehicles produced by manufacturers will be taken into account to set a specific target. A manufacturer who predominantly produces heavy 4 by 4 vehicles would be given a higher target.
  • By 2020 there are further measures for improvements and the target is set to 95 g of CO2 per kilometre, representing a planned reduction of 40%.

How the regulations affect you.

Government incentives and other benefits will mean that as well as helping the environment, you will also save money by buying the more eco-friendly economical car. Ultimately the regulations are requirements for manufacturers and will not directly impact you. You may find that certain car dealers promote more fuel efficient vehicles in order for them to meet their target. As it works on an average basis and manufacturers selling high quantities of vehicles above their threshold will promote vehicles under the target in order to bring the average into line. The legislation only applies to new cars; older vehicles are exempt from these requirements. All new cars registered in the European Union are governed by this legislation; governments are required to set their own vehicle related road taxes.

UK government steps to promote fuel-efficient vehicles

  • The March 2011 budget was used to announce the extension of the lower rate of vehicle excise duty (VED) to cover cars in the private and light goods taxation class with an engine size 1549cc or less
  • Since 2001 the graded VED tax banding system has been in place, it currently comprised of 13 bands, A - M labelling. VED discounts are available for alternatively fuelled cars, e.g. hybrids, gas and biofuels.
  • Since April 2010 a different higher rate of vehicle taxation applies to a vehicle for his first year of registration, after which the standard rate applies.
  • Since April 2002 company car tax was based on the CO2 emissions of the vehicle provided to an employee for their private use.
  • The Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation has introduced a target that requires 5% of road fuels to come from renewable sources by 2013. This may be sold as separate fuel or blended into normal petrol and diesel at low 5% ratio.

Emission Targets for Vans

In 2011 Regulation EC/510/2011, came into force. With a similar format to the cars regulation this regulation applied to light duty vans classification N1. It sets a fleet average of 175 g per kilometre of CO2 to be achieved by 2017. A longer term target of 147 g of CO2 per kilometre was set to be achieved by 2020.

Published on 26th Mar 2015

The Low Carbon Vehicle Public Procurement Programme (LCVPPP) is supporting low carbon vehicle research and development and vehicle uptake by public sector fleets.

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