EU road vehicle energy consumption and CO2 emissions by 2050 – Expert-based scenarios

Jette Krause, Christian Thiel, Dimitrios Tsokolis, Zissis Samaras, Christian Rota, Andy Ward, Peter Prenninger, Thierry Coosemans, Stephan Neugebauer, Wim Verhoeve

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To inform long-term policies on transport decarbonisation, the present paper analyses European road transport CO 2 emission reduction options by 2050. The investigation focusses on measures improving tank to wheel vehicle efficiency, but takes into account upstream emissions of electric vehicles. Measures for vehicle efficiency improvement, transport smoothing, and transport reduction, as well as possible 2050 road vehicle fleet compositions have been quantified through expert group discussion and combined with fleet impact modelling to calculate scenario results. Outcomes show that tank to wheel road transport CO 2 emission reductions up to 90% versus 1990 could be reached by 2050 through strong fleet electrification and if all measures achieve their best potential. Under ambitious fleet electrification scenarios, CO 2 reduction of more than 60% is reached without measures, but causes substantial additional demand for low-carbon electricity, the availability of which is not covered in this paper. It is likely that policies will be a prerequisite for fleet electrification and efficiency increases of the order of magnitude assumed. Moreover, upstream CO 2 emissions of electricity for battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles could add up to 40% of tank to wheel emissions, suggesting that complementary policies are needed to avoid shifting transport emissions to other sectors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111224
JournalEnergy Policy
Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (


  • Road transport
  • CO2 emissions
  • Electrification
  • Decarbonisation
  • Modelling
  • Expert discussion
  • CO emissions


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