Fuel economy of cars and vans (light-duty vehicles)

Tracking Clean Energy Progress

🕐 Last updated Wednesday, 23 May 2018

More efforts needed

Fuel economy standards delivered a 1.5% annual average decline in consumption per kilometre by new cars and vans between 2005 and 2015. To get on track with the 2030 SDS target, which aligns with the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) target, annual improvements of 3.6% are needed. Global coverage of fuel economy standards for both light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles has increased dramatically over the past decade, but coverage of trucks and buses lags significantly.


Fuel economy of new cars and vans (light-duty vehicles)

The global sales-weighted average fuel economy of LDVs on the Worldwide Harmonized Light duty Test Cycle (WLTC).

	  Historical	GFEI Target
2005	8.766253281	
2006	8.614817114	
2007	8.463380947	
2008	8.311944779	
2009	8.182231163	
2010	8.052517547	
2011	7.984018	
2012	7.841190933	
2013	7.763575018	
2014	7.637084844	
2015	7.556819738	
2025		5.44102434
2030		4.38
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Global sales-weighted average fuel economy of LDVs on the Worldwide harmonized Light duty Test Cycle (WLTC)


The coverage of energy efficiency policies in transport is an important indicator to assess advances in the sector. The most promising developments are in light-duty vehicles (LDVs), which still account for about 47% of the sector’s energy use and 46% of its emissions, despite some indications of decoupling with economic growth in high-income countries.


Tracking progress

Car buyers continue to choose bigger, heavier vehicles, not only in the United States but increasingly in Europe and Asia too. In Europe, this has led to a rise in the average new car CO2 emissions in 2017.

In spite of this, fuel economy standards delivered a 1.5% annual average decline in consumption per kilometre of new cars and light-duty trucks between 2005 and 2015. Fuel economy standards for light-duty vehicles are now applied in around 40 countries, but have been offset by these global consumer trends for larger cars and trucks and need to be improved.

Steady improvements in vehicle efficiency have been achieved thanks to expanding fuel economy standards. The policy coverage for heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) is a decade behind LDVs, but is catching up because of an increased focus on the sector in regions like the European Union and India (where carbon emissions standards will come into force this year for heavy-duty vehicles).

To get on track with the SDS pathway, annual average energy efficiency improvements of about 3.6% for new light-duty road vehicles are needed from now to 2030.

Rapid electrification of the sector plays a vital role, as electric motors are around 2-3 times more efficient compared to the conventional powertrains, contributing in parallel to compliance with energy efficiency standards and diversifying the fuel mix of the transport sector.