New research by Transport & Environment suggests that carmakers are holding back sales of both electric cars and more fuel-efficient versions of models in Europe, to "maximise their profits".
The report, 'CO2 emissions from cars: The facts', says that almost all manufacturers will comply with the EU’s 2021 CO2 emissions reduction targets through a combination of selling more fuel-efficient and plug-in models and "exploiting flexibilities in the regulation".
It finds that only six of the top 50 selling models in Europe received a full model upgrade in 2018 and very few new plug-in cars were made available.
According to Transport & Environment, this has contributed to lack of progress in reducing CO2 emissions last year.
The report also finds that just four of the top-selling 50 models are set to be fully upgraded by the end of this year, followed by 14 in 2019, and seven in 2020.
Transport & Environment said that seven upgrades per year is typical for the top 50 selling models and that this “tactic of continuing to sell old models for as long as possible makes it clear that carmakers are both optimising profits and trying to deceive regulators that they will struggle to hit the 2021 CO2 targets as the EU ponders new targets for 2025”.
Greg Archer, clean vehicles director at Transport & Environment, said: “Carmakers are shameless, crying wolf that they can’t meet their CO2 targets and blaming declining diesel sales, while pushing old, inefficient, high-performance SUVs to maximise their profits.
“As a result CO2 emissions are rising and their customers are hit with higher fuel bills. But the reality is almost all serious carmakers in Europe will hit their targets and avoid fines.”