Passenger vehicles

Passenger vehicles

Passenger cars, light trucks and vans, motorcycles, scooters, and other two- and three-wheeled vehicles account for about a third of global oil demand and produce about half of all transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. And while great strides have been made in controlling pollutant emissions from light-duty vehicles that contribute to local air pollution—carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbons, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, particulates, other air toxins—those vehicles are still a significant cause of unhealthy air worldwide, particularly near major roadways and in urban areas with a high concentration of vehicle activity. Efficiency standards are reducing oil consumption and GHG emissions from the growing light-duty fleet, but more forceful public policy action to extend efficiency standards and complementary fiscal policies, ensure manufacturers’ real cooperation with policy goals, and support a technological transition to zero-emission vehicles is needed if we are to effectively manage the future climate and health effects of the light-duty vehicle sector.

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About the program

Passenger cars, light trucks and vans, motorcycles, scooters, and other two- and three-wheeled vehicles account for about a third of global oil demand and produce about half of all transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. And while great strides have been made in controlling pollutant emissions from light-duty vehicles that contribute to local air pollution—carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbons, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, particulates, other air toxins—those vehicles are still a significant cause of unhealthy air worldwide, particularly near major roadways and in urban areas with a high concentration of vehicle activity. Efficiency standards are reducing oil consumption and GHG emissions from the growing light-duty fleet, but more forceful public policy action to extend efficiency standards and complementary fiscal policies, ensure manufacturers’ real cooperation with policy goals, and support a technological transition to zero-emission vehicles is needed if we are to effectively manage the future climate and health effects of the light-duty vehicle sector.

The ICCT’s passenger vehicle program works with regulatory agencies as well as other government officials, researchers, nongovernmental organizations, and private-sector stakeholders to reduce fuel consumption, greenhouse-gas emissions, and air pollution from the global light-duty vehicle fleet, beginning with the essential task of protecting and extending the gains that have been made through existing efficiency standards. Our research staff works to assess technology trends, evaluate benefits and costs of advanced technologies, understand and communicate best-practice knowledge of effective design of emission, fuel efficiency and GHG standards, fiscal incentives, and consumer information programs, and support a long-term technological transition to zero-emission vehicles.

Road transportation is one of the leading sources of outdoor air pollution in Southern and Western Africa, particularly in cities, where emissions from light- and heavy-duty vehicles, minibuses, buses, and two-and three-wheelers continue to negatively affect public health, making motor vehicles a central area for rapid policy response. (From Developing a roadmap for the adoption of clean fuel and vehicle standards in Southern and Western Africa.)

Recent publications

Automobile production in Canada and implications for Canada’s 2025 passenger vehicle greenhouse gas standards

Analyzes the Canadian vehicle manufacturing market and sales patterns to illuminate the possible impacts if Canada weakens its greenhouse gas emission standards in order to align with the U.S. federal government or maintains its existing standards and aligns with California and, most likely, 13 other U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

2018.04.10 | Working paper
How will off-cycle credits impact U.S. 2025 efficiency standards?

Analyzes the U.S. off-cycle credit program within the 2025 greenhouse gas and fuel economy regulations, including how the off-cycle credits were used in model years 2015 and 2016, trends among automakers with the most credits, and the impact of greater credit use through 2025.

2018.03.27 | White paper
Diesel car sales decline will have negligible impact on attainment of European CO2 emission standards

In the aftermath of Dieselgate, diesel car sales shares are falling in Europe. But diesel's decline does not put EU CO2 targets out of reach. Other technologies offer more compelling and cost-effective pathways to reducing CO2 emissions from passenger cars.

2018.03.18 | Briefing
See all publications

Staff blog

A no-regrets option: What discussions in the European Parliament spotlight about a light-duty 2025–2030 CO2 standard for the EU

Although there is broad agreement on what steps need to be taken regarding CO2 standards for new passenger cars and vans, the regulatory proposal from the European Commission is far from actually taking them.

Staff