Overview and evaluation of eco-innovations in European passenger car CO2 standards

Published: 2018.07.11

Uwe Tietge, Peter Mock, Jan Dornoff

The eco-innovations mechanism rewards innovative technologies that produce real-world CO2 savings beyond what is measured over the standardized test cycle during vehicle type approval. Because CO2 savings from eco-innovation technologies count toward manufacturers’ CO2 targets, manufacturers have an incentive to develop and deploy cost-effective eco-innovations to meet CO2 standards. In theory, providing credits to manufacturers for technologies that reduce real-world emissions can both reduce the cost of complying with the CO2 standards and increase total real-world reductions. However, if estimated eco-innovations CO2 savings exceed the amount of real-world reductions, or if credits are given that double-count CO2 reductions on the type-approval test, they can become a loophole and erode the benefits of the CO2 standards. Thus, it is critical to properly account for the real-world benefits of eco-innovations.

While 25 eco-innovations for passenger cars have been approved to date, less than half have made it to market. Fleet-average CO2 savings from eco-innovations remained low in 2017, at less than 0.04 g/km. This value is likely to underestimate CO2 savings due to approximately half of EU member states not providing reliable monitoring data on eco-innovations; however, fleet-average CO2 savings were still likely well below 1 g/km. Nevertheless, select vehicles achieved CO2 savings upward of 4 g/km, and future targets are expected to accelerate eco-innovations uptake. In addition, a recent amendment to the eco-innovation regulation simplifies the process of approving eco-innovations, incentivizing vehicle manufacturers and component suppliers to market more technologies.

CO2 savings from eco-innovations by vehicle brand in 2017, sorted by brand-average CO2 savings.

CO2 savings from eco-innovations by vehicle brand in 2017, sorted by brand-average CO2 savings.