European vehicle emissions – tax incentives

17 April 2018

Article: 52/1509

According to European Environment Agency (EEA) data released on 16 April 2018, emissions of carbon dioxide from new passenger cars have dropped in a number of European countries where a range of taxes, subsidies and other incentives are used to encourage consumers to purchase lower-carbon-dioxide (Co2) emitting vehicles. The number of countries offering incentives for electric vehicles in particular, continues to grow. At the same time, emissions from trucks and buses are expected to increase further if new measures are not taken.

The EEA briefing ‘Appropriate taxes and incentives do affect purchases of new cars’ based on a study done by the EEA’s European Topic Centre on Air Pollution and Climate Change Mitigation (ETC/ACM), examines what financial incentives EU Member States, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland are using to steer consumers to drive more eco-friendly cars and what the impact of these incentives has been. The analysis includes seven case studies which explore the different approaches used for taxation and incentives across France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Poland. The study found that consumers more readily purchased lower emitting cars where sufficiently large and targeted taxes and incentives were in place.

The number of countries offering incentives promoting the use of hybrids and battery electric vehicles has jumped considerably from 2010 to 2016. The briefing warns that to foster the uptake of electric vehicles, more charging facilities are needed to reassure people on reliability and range limitation concerns on using battery-powered cars. 

A separate briefing ‘Carbon dioxide emissions from Europe’s heavy-duty vehicles’, also released on 16 April 2018,reports that trucks, buses and coaches are responsible for around one quarter of Co2 emissions from the transport sector and are expected to increase further if new measures to curb emissions are not taken.