Volume weighted average CO2 emissions in some Europe markets fell from 117.7g/km in 2020 to 99g/km last year, following introduction of the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP).

According to JATO Dynamics data for 17 European markets, the fall in average CO2 emissions was a “significant reduction” of 16%, outpacing the 12% drop posted between 2020 and 2019 under New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).

Global analyst Felipe Munoz said: “This positive reduction comes as a result of a concerted effort from OEMs to improve their sales mix containing more low emissions cars and less pollutant SUVs alongside a general decline in sales witnessed as a result of the pandemic.”

Norway leads on two fronts

Norway continued to lead in both lowest average emissions and market share of pure electric cars last year.

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By GlobalData

Emissions produced by new cars registered there reached just 16.9g/km, the best result in Europe, owing to the popularity of low emissions vehicles, with almost two in three passenger cars registered in 2021 pure electric, or 85% with the addition of PHEVs.

The penetration of low emissions vehicles for the region as a whole averaged 10.3% for BEVs and 8.8% for PHEVs.

Munoz said: “The average emissions in some countries remained at high levels perhaps due to a relative lack of purchasing power in those markets, alongside limited available charging infrastructure.”

Slovenia, Croatia, and Greece in particular saw low sales of these vehicles with BEVs between 2.2% and 3.3%, and PHEVs between 4.2% and 7%.

Tesla also leads

The popularity of the Model 3 and Model Y last year pushed Tesla into the top 25 best selling brands in Europe for the first time. With a record 165,700 units in the 17 markets and 169,200 across the whole region, the US EV maker became Europe’s preferred brand for electric vehicles leading the ranking by emissions with 0.0g/km (it doesn’t sell ICEs, of course).

Renault took second place with an emissions average of 86.7 g/km, thanks to the success of the Zoe. However. despite this progress, the majority of Renault vehicles sold were still powered by petrol engines, producing an average of 123.4 g/km.

Demand for Hyundai zero emissions and plug-in hybrids cars grew by 26% and 246% respectively accounting for 24% of its total registrations last year. Due to this increase, the Korean brand took third position among the 10 most popular low emission vehicles.

Mixed SUVs

Last year, SUVs accounted for 45% of all passenger car registrations in Europe. 35 (41%) of the 85 fully electric models available in Europe were SUVs, a significant jump from 24% in 2019.

Munoz said: “The popularity of SUVs has had a mixed impact on CO2 emissions in Europe. On the one hand, SUVs are usually bigger and heavier than hatchbacks, sedans, and wagons, leading to a higher level of emissions output. However, they have seen more progress in reducing CO2 emissions than any other segment, thanks to arrival of more electric and plug-in hybrid SUVs.”