Western Europe is on course to achieve a reduction in CO2 emissions from new passenger cars sold, in line with a 2008 target set by the European carmakers' association ACEA. However, further progress will be far harder to come by and could be costly, ACEA suggests.

In 1998, ACEA agreed to reduce average new car fleet CO2 emissions across Europe (EU15) by around 25% from their 1995 level (185g/km) to 140g/km by 2008.

An interim target of 165-170g/km by 2003 was also set.

ACEA estimates that the 2002 average CO2 emissions figure was 163g/km (the European Commission puts the figure at a slightly higher 165g/km) and therefore below the interim target range for 2003.

Speaking at a CO2 seminar hosted by the SMMT in London, Hermann Meyer, ACEA's Environmental Policy Director, said that the industry was on course to achieve its 2008 target reduction through continuing vehicle technology and market trend factors such as growing diesel sales and more efficient engines. Fuel-economy labelling of cars and fiscal measures play a role in the context of market evolution too.

However, he also said that further progress beyond the 2008 target will require an 'integrated approach' involving factors such as the encouragement of alternative powertrains, biofuels, changed consumer behaviour and more work on traffic management.

Meyer added that research commissioned by ACEA indicated that in order to achieve a further CO2 reduction target to 120g/km by 2012 using vehicle technology alone, the additional costs to vehicle manufacturers could be as high as €4,000 per vehicle.