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Europe approves new vehicle zero emission plan by 2035

by Mark Nolan
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Zero emission plan

The European Parliament (EP) on Tuesday confirmed new CO2 emission reduction targets for new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, one of the measures in the “Target 55” package.

With 340 votes in favour, 279 against and 21 abstentions, the MEPs have approved the agreement reached with the Council which will review the standards on CO2 emissions from new passenger cars and vans. In this way, the car industry aligns itself with the higher climate ambition of the EU.

The new legislation outlines the path to reduce CO2 emissions from new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles to zero by 2035. There will also be interim emissions reduction targets for 2030 of 55% for cars and 50% for vans compared to the 2021 level, and as an average for the whole EU new vehicle fleet.

Other key measures contemplated in the Regulation:

The Commission will present, by 2025 at the latest, a methodology to assess and report data on CO2 emissions over the entire life cycle of cars and vans sold in the EU. Where appropriate, this methodology will be accompanied by legislative proposals.

By December 2026, the Commission will study the difference between emission limit values ​​and actual fuel and energy consumption data, report on a methodology to adjust manufacturers’ actual CO2 emissions and propose appropriate follow-up measures.

Manufacturers with low production (between 1,000 and 10,000 new cars or between 1,000 and 22,000 new vans per year) will be eligible for an exemption until the end of 2035. Those declaring less than 1,000 new vehicles per year will continue to be exempt.

The current incentive mechanism for zero or low emission vehicles rewards manufacturers that sell more zero or low emission vehicles with lower CO2 emission reduction targets. These are vehicles with emissions between zero and 50 g of CO2/km, such as electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids with good performance. This mechanism will be adapted to meet sales expectations. From 2025 to 2029, the zero or low emission vehicle benchmark is set at 25% for new car sales and 17% for new vans. Starting in 2030, this incentive will disappear.

Every two years, starting at the end of 2025, the Commission will publish a report to assess progress towards zero-emission road mobility.

Statements by the rapporteur

The speaker, Jan Huitema (Renew, The Netherlands), made the following statements: “This regulation will boost the production of zero or low emission vehicles. It includes an ambitious revision of the targets for 2030 and 2035, essential to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest. These objectives bring clarity to the automotive industry and stimulate innovation and investment among car manufacturers. Buying and driving clean cars will be cheaper, and a used market will appear sooner. Sustainable driving will finally be within everyone’s reach.”

Next steps

After the final vote in plenary, the text will have to be formally approved by the Council. It will then be published in the Official Journal of the EU.


On 14 July 2021, the Commission presented, within the ‘Target 55’ package, a legislative proposal to revise the CO2 emission standards applicable to new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. The proposal is intended to contribute to the Union’s climate objectives for 2030 and 2050, benefit citizens and boost innovation in zero-emission technologies.

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