Published on March 22nd, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


EU 2020 CO2 Reduction Standards Will Save Drivers Big Money

March 22nd, 2013 by  

Making cars more efficient is cost effective, new research on the matter has found. Here are some details from Green Car Congress:

fuel savings

A report published by Cambridge Econometrics and Ricardo-AEA concludes that overall, the cost of technologies required to meet proposed European 2020 CO2 regulations for vehicles (95 g/km for cars and 147 g/km for vans) will be more than offset by the resultant fuel savings. The technical and macro-economic study, commissioned by the European Climate Foundation, focuses on light-duty vehicles.

The project is taking a phased approach. This first report (Phase I) examines only the impact of improving the efficiency of fossil-fueled vehicles, in which efficiency gains are delivered by the improvement of the internal combustion engine vehicle, including lightweighting, engine downsizing and hybridization. The Phase II report, to be presented mid-2013, examines the impact of the gradual penetration of advanced powertrains, such as battery-electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles, and the gradual replacement of fossil fuels with increasing levels of indigenous energy resources, such as electricity and hydrogen.

I’m curious to see what the researchers find in the electric vehicle (and hydrogen) portion of the study. For more details on the Phase I report, check out the Green Car Congress article or the original press release.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Russell

    Yes, making cars more efficient sure has to be one of the better “cheaper than free” environmental initiatives. As far as I am aware, new car buyers don’t take lifetime running costs into consideration properly, meaning a “market failure” where everyone loses. For a given country its the new car buyers that entirely decide what cars come in, the second hand buyers just buy whats already there. If someone with a lot of spare cash buys a SUV, all the future owners waste money driving it as well.

    Where there is irrationality there is also opportunity however, and even without standards, some kind of green finance scheme should work. i.e. you find a new car buyer who has the opportunity to spend $3K upfront to save $10K fuel cost over the lifetime of the vehicle but is not going to, and you offer them the extra $3K in return for some of their fuel savings. The scheme would make money, the owner would save some, everyone should win. It would of course be practically difficult as the cost saving payment arrangement would have to be sold with the car when the first owner upgraded.

  • jburt56

    They had the technology to do 100 mpg in the 1940s.

  • DK

    Before deleting my comment, how about letting your readers answer a couple of simple questions?

    1) Do you think automakers will use more lightweight materials in autos in order to improve fuel efficiency? Why or why not?

    2) If so, does this make autos less safe? Why or why not?

    Let’s have an open and honest discussion.

    • Marshall Harris

      In the book “Reinventing Fire”, the author goes into detail about carbon fiber materials. I am not very proficient on the subject but basically, more weight does not equal more safety. These lightweight materials have actually been found to be even stronger than the heavy stuff.

    • Russell

      OK but as has been pointed out, if cars have to meet safety standards, then surely that is the end of the story, they are safe. You don’t need to understand how they meet the standard, the whole point of a standard is that if it is met then you can trust it.

    • Bob_Wallace

      There is a new steel processing that is being used which makes steel very much stronger. That means that less can be used (a weight saver) while maintaining or even increasing crash resistance.

      I’ve forgotten the process but I think it has to do with rapidly cooling the steel rather than letting it cool off ‘naturally’.

      That’s one of the ways weight can be cut without increasing danger to occupants.

      Another approach is to use aluminum for door exteriors, hoods and trunks. These play little to no role in passenger safety so weight reductions do not place occupants at more risk.

    • DK, you need to do a little research on design. Yes it take effort to make a car safer. But mass does not by definition equal safe, it does equal more damage to thing you hit. In the US truck are get to skip many safely rule on cars. They weight more, but if you look at the data are much less safe. Compare a car build in 1940 with one build in 2010, the 1940 car would weight a lot more, do you really think it would be safer.

    • Tom G.


      As the old saying goes; it is not the speed that kills but the sudden stop. If you look at the human body and the G forces that occur when you run into an object; you are probably NOT going to survive most accidents if your speed is above about 40-50 mph. Here is a website where you can plug in different data that will show what happens as you apply more vehicle weight, more speed, more crush zone and etc. Enjoy.

  • DK

    Unfortunately, one of the ways automakers will improve gas mileage is by using lighter weight materials. This will make cars less safe in case of a crash. I wonder how many lives will be lost because of this.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Lighter weight materials do not necessarily mean less safe vehicles. All vehicles will still have to meet safety requirements.

      We used to build very heavy cars. And they were not very safe at all. Those metal dashboards with sharp edges. No crumple zones. No side impact barriers.

      The trick is to find strong materials which weigh less. That and good design will insure safety.

    • Ronald Brakels

      How did the decline in the mass of US cars after the oil shocks of the 70s work out for you? Any surge in autodeaths as a result? I don’t know what it’s like in the US, but in Australia big heavy vehicles such as the Mitsubishi Express, Mahindra Pik-up, Holden Colarado, Nissan Navara, and Nissan Patrol are all in our top ten least safe vehicles with the Misubishi Express and Mahindra Pik-up being the worst.

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