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.

Passenger car fuel economy standards normalized to NEDC

Nearly 80% of new light-duty vehicles sold globally are subject to some sort of fuel efficiency standards. Because the individual regulations differ in ways that affect how vehicle performance against standards is measured, the various standards are not directly comparable. Therefore, we at the ICCT have devised a methodology that allows us to compare these standards when adjusted for differences in test cycles and test procedures, gasoline or diesel fuel market share and units of measurement. 

Anup Bandivadekar, ICCT's passenger vehicles program director, explains this chart showing new passenger car greenhouse gas emission levels normalized to the European test procedure, known as the NEDC.

—See passenger vehicle fuel economy chart library (updated April 2018)

Recent publications

Evaluation of real-world fuel consumption of light-duty vehicles in China

This research explores policy approaches that can improve real-world fuel consumption performance, especially for compliance with the 2015-2020 standards and the development of the 2025-2030 standards.

2018.06.21 | White paper
Comparison of fuel-efficiency technology deployment in passenger cars in China, Europe, and the United States

This briefing compares the fleet characteristics and fuel-efficiency technology deployment in China, Europe and the U.S. from 2010 to 2014. In addition, the briefing evaluates the response of the passenger vehicle market in China to the country’s fuel efficiency standards.

2018.06.15 | Briefing
Technical considerations for implementing a Real Driving Emissions test for passenger vehicles in India

This position brief makes specific recommendations regarding the adoption of RDE testing in India. The recommendations are geared towards ensuring that implementation of an Indian RDE program would narrow the gap between laboratory and on-road emissions performance of vehicles that should meet Bharat Stage (BS) VI emissions standards. 

2018.05.31 | Position brief
See all publications

Staff blog

Off the hook: Europe's current ZLEV proposal would allow CO2 emissions of new combustion engine vehicles to increase

Even though targets for low- and zero-emission vehicles are an innovative approach for EU standards, they could undercut the climate benefit of the regulation. Fortunately, with some slight modifications EU regulators could effectively promote both fuel efficiency and electrification.

Staff