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The carmakers´ race to 2021 has started

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Facing disruption from new technologies and regulation, the European automotive industry invests close to €45 billion into R&D annually, a large percentage of which is on fuel-efficiency technology. This reflects the need to meet the European Union’s (EU) mandatory emission reduction targets for new cars. These require that, by 2021, new car fleets do not emit more than an average of 95 grams of CO₂ per kilometre (g/km).

Every year, we rank the top carmakers in Europe according to their performance against these CO₂ emission targets. Our latest rankings show many are still struggling to hit their 2021 targets raising real questions about how they can make the changes required in time to avoid costly penalties.

While Peugeot Citroen, Toyota, Renault-Nissan and Volvo are on track to meet their specific targets by 2021, five major manufacturers – Volkswagen, BMW, Hyundai-Kia, Fiat Chrysler, and GM – are likely to miss theirs.

Our way of benchmarking, unavailable anywhere else in the market, analyses the targets set for each carmakers’ business based on their average vehicle weight and compares this with their forecasted performance based on their overall fleet portfolio.

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To see which carmakers are on track to meet their 2021 targets, and how their levels of CO₂ emissions compare, click on the interactive dashboard below.

Ranking per average Co2 (g/km) emission 2021:

Rank OEM 2021 Prediction 2021 Target
1 PSA (Peugeot-Citroen) 87.5 88.5
2 Toyota 89.8 91.8
3 Renault / Nissan 90.4 91.8
4 Ford 93.5 91.7
5 General Motors 96.8 93.1
6 Hyundai / Kia 96.9 91.6
7 Volvo 97.4 99.5
8 Fiat Chrysler 98.6 92.1
9 Volkswagen 99.1 96.3
10 Daimler 100.8 99.7
11 BMW 103.5 100.1
12 Jaguar Land Rover 132.8 132.0

Please visit this web page on a desktop computer or tablet device to view the above table as an interactive dashboard.

How carmakers rank against their competitors for CO2 emissions. Forecast by PA Consulting Group is based on pre-2014 figures from Transport & Environment, ICCT, JLR Sustainability Report, ACEA and PwC Autofacts.

On target Closed to target Off target


CO2 Emissions analysys of the results green

Individual CO₂ targets are achievable for a few carmakers as only four of the 12 are forecast to meet the targets, due to their early investment in alternative powertrains. Toyota and Volvo, for example, could be more than 2g CO₂/km ahead of target, while Renault-Nissan will achieve 90.4g CO₂/km – 1.4g CO₂/km ahead of the 2021 target.

CO2 Emissions analysys of the results orange

Some carmakers are getting closer to their specific targets. Ford and Daimler may be able to turn round their performance. They have announced investment plans in new electric and hybrid cars to reduce emissions levels. JLR’s targets are worked out in a different way – essentially requiring a 45% reduction on their 2007 emissions as long as their registered vehicles per year in Europe do not exceed 300,000 by 2020.

CO2 Emissions analysys of the results red

Two German carmakers – Volkswagen and BMW – as well as Hyundai-Kia, Fiat Chrysler and GM are likely to miss their targets. Many of their alternative vehicles will not reach the market in time to make an effect on emission levels before 2021. They risk penalties of €95 for each gram of CO₂ above the limit, multiplied by the number of cars they sell in 2020. These could range from around €350 million for BMW, more than €600 million for Fiat Chrysler and up to €1 billion for Volkswagen.


To meet European carbon emissions reduction targets for 2021 and reduce the risk of penalties, carmakers must take action on five fronts.

  • Optimise engine performance to achieve environmental compliance: Improving the components that generate power and deliver it to the road surface lowers fuel consumption and drives progress on reducing carbon emissions.
  • Cut vehicle weight to meet carbon emissions reduction targets: For every 100 kg a vehicle’s weight is reduced, fuel consumption falls by 0.25l/100km, delivering a reduction in carbon emissions of approximately 6-7g CO₂/km. 
  • Move beyond hybrids: As hybrid cars do not qualify for super credits (emissions of less than 50g) towards the CO₂ targets and cleaner conventional engines are rapidly closing the emissions gap, the hybrid may have reached its peak.
  • Make electric vehicles attractive to customers: All manufacturers need to overcome the challenges of price, range and infrastructure and there is evidence that these will be addressed in the new generation of electric cars from 2020 onwards. 
  • Reshape vehicle portfolio to ensure environmental compliance: Carmakers can further reduce average carbon emissions by reshaping their vehicle portfolios to include a higher proportion of smaller cars and engines, downsizing from eight cylinders to six cylinders or six to four.


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We have worked with a number of manufacturers including Magna Steyr to ensure fleets meet EU carbon emission targets.

To find out how our experts can help you achieve these targets, contact us now.

Thomas Goettle

Thomas Goettle
PA manufacturing expert

Email | LinkedIn

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