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. [This] 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 explains this chart showing new passenger car greenhouse gas emission levels normalized to the European test procedure, known as the NEDC. See the passenger vehicle fuel economy chart library.

Recent publications

Adjusting for vehicle mass and size in European post-2020 CO2 targets for passenger cars

Summarizes the implications of the current mass-based CO2 targets in the EU and outlines three alternatives: do away with the utility parameter altogether; use vehicle footprint instead of mass; keep the mass utility parameter, but reduce its impact on manufacturers’ CO2 targets.

2018.08.08 | Briefing
Lessons learned on early electric vehicle fast-charging deployments

An overview of electric vehicle fast-charging installed around the world and what the future might hold going forward, including charging power, grid constraints, installation costs, and business models.

2018.08.01 | White paper
New Vehicle Fuel Economy and CO2 Emission Standards Emissions Evaluation Guide

Guide to calculating emissions reductions from new-vehicle fuel economy and CO2 emission standards, developed along with an Excel-based calculator called FESET (Fuel Economy Standards Evaluation Tool) for Changing Transport.

2018.07.25 | Consulting report
See all publications

Staff blog

On vehicle efficiency standards, it’s time for Canada to chart its own course

Now that the EPA and NHTSA proposal for revised fuel efficiency standards is out, the full extent of the roll back and the significant implications for Canada are clear

Staff