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A leading UK engineer says the greenest cars on the market by 2020 will emit fewer harmful emissions per passenger than electric trains.

Autocar reports Richard Parry-Jones told a transportation conference in London that current industry targets put hybrid and plug-in cars on track to outperform the cleanest trains in the UK’s high-speed fleet.

The industry has its sights set on lowering vehicle tailpipe emissions to 40g/km CO2 by the end of the decade – a level that translates to fuel consumption of approximately 1.7 litres of petrol per 100km, or 1.5L/100km of diesel.

That level effectively drops to 25g/km per passenger when the average number of occupants per car (1.6) is taken into account.

The reduction in tailpipe emissions will be achieved through the increased take-up of electric vehicles and further advancements in plug-in, hybrid and internal combustion engine technology.

Ultra-fuel efficient vehicles are just around the corner. Late last year, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn confirmed his company would start small series production of a vehicle based on the XL1 concept (pictured) – a two-seater diesel plug-in that uses as little as 0.9L/100km on the combined cycle.

The Toyota Prius Plug-In, which is already available in the US, Japan and Europe, uses just 2.1L/100km of petrol on the official European cycle and emits 49g/km CO2.




  • tsport100

    ICE powered cars are only 15% energy efficient at the wheels. The only way to make cars ‘cleaner’ than an electric train is to make all cars 100% electric also.

  • Cg

    Great.. Why don’t we stop making cars all together?

  • Ssnm

    Europe is a sinking ship and no longer has any relevance..

    Take what ever comes out of their traps with a grain of salt..

    • Luke Brinsmead

      …yeah, except for northern European countries and especially Germany, who is the main country propping up the ailing Euro.

  • Luke Brinsmead

    In ten years time the 100g cars todays will be mainstream, the car purchased recently emits just 141g, but it was quite a bit cheaper than the 100g cars.

  • Lox

    How about a bigger focus on other polluters – boats, factories etc.

  • Andrew M

    What they are forgetting is that even though electric vehicles make no tail pipe emissions, they are still responsible for emissions back at the power plant just like an electric train would be.

    They convert the efficiency of electric vehicles into a Litres per 100k ratio to make them able to be compared with petrol vehicles, why dont they do this with emissions?

  • Ggc

    Yeah those batteries require lots of energy to be produced..

  • Springvale Boi

    He’s comparing 2020 cars with 2012 trains. Constant tart/stop metro trains’ power consumption reduce greatly with regenerative braking.  It’s a matter of time before trains with regenerative braking come out. Hybrid trucks and buses are already available.

  • Insight

    It’s great to see that VW has updated the 1996 GM EV1. 

    Just when I thought car makers had finally worked out the people want their electric cars to look like…. normal cars.