Mass- and power-related efficiency trade-offs and CO2 emissions of compact passenger cars

  • Passenger cars in Europe have become both heavier and more powerful over the past decades. This trend has increased vehicle utility but it might have also offset technical improvements in powertrain efficiency. Here, we analyze efficiency trade-offs and CO2 emissions for three popular compact cars in Germany. We find that mass, power, and front area of model variants has increased by 66%, 147%, and 22%, respectively between 1980 and 2018. In the same period, fuel consumption decreased 14% for gasoline models but it increased 9% for diesel models. However, if vehicle mass, power, and front area had remained at 1980 levels, technical efficiency improvements would have decreased the fuel consumption of gasoline and diesel models by 23% and 24%, respectively. The related efficiency trade-offs amount to 24 g CO2/km or 13% of the current fuel consumption for gasoline models and 40 g CO2/km or 25% of the current fuel consumption for diesel models. These findings suggest that about half of the technical efficiency improvements in gasoline models and all of the technical efficiency improvements in diesel models are offset through other vehicle attributes. By accounting for the observed efficiency trade-offs, climate policy could become more effective.
Author:Martin Weiss, Lukas Irrgang, Andreas T. Kiefer, Josefine R. Roth, Eckard Helmers
Parent Title (English):Journal of Cleaner Production
Document Type:Article (specialist journals)
Date of OPUS upload:2022/09/03
Date of first Publication:2019/09/07
Publishing University:Hochschule Trier
Release Date:2022/09/05
Tag:CO2 emissions; climate policy; efficiency trade-offs; passenger cars; vehicle mass; vehicle power
GND Keyword:Personenkraftwagen; Kohlendioxidemission; Klimaschutz
Article Number:118326
Page Number:10
First Page:1
Last Page:10
Departments:FB Umweltplanung/-technik (UCB)
Dewey Decimal Classification:6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 60 Technik
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY-NC-ND - Namensnennung - Nicht kommerziell - Keine Bearbeitungen 4.0 International