Volkswagen faces a fine of over EUR100m (US$121m) for missing EU targets on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from its 2020 passenger car fleet, it said on Thursday.

That, however, contrasted with a statement from the automaker saying its Volkswagen Passenger Cars "significantly exceeds European CO2 fleet targets for 2020".

VW said in the statement average CO2 emissions for the passenger car fleet of new vehicles in Europe was around 6m grams below the legal target – a year on year decrease of 22% from 2019. The passenger car fleet of new vehicles in the European Union achieved average CO2 emissions of 92g/km – the legal CO2 target for the VW Passenger Cars brand was 97g/km. As a result, CO2 emissions fell by 22 percent compared to the previous year.

However, VW told Reuters it cut average CO2 emissions in the fleet in the European Union by around 20% to 99.8g/km but that was around 0.5g/km above its target. That implied EU fines amounting to a "very low triple-digit million amount", a spokesman told the news agency.

Reuters noted European policymakers had clamped down on exhaust emissions, forcing carmakers to boost development of low-emission technology or face a penalty of EUR95 per gram of excess CO2 they emit.

"We narrowly missed the fleet target for 2020, thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic," CEO Herbert Diess said in a statement cited by Reuters, adding he hoped to meet the target this year as the company's main brands bring out new electric models.

Reuters noted VW had said the EU's more stringent emissions targets would force it to boost the proportion of hybrid and electric vehicles in its European car sales to 60% by 2030, up from a previous target of 40%.

EU Commission final confirmation of fleet targets will follow later, VW said.