The transport sector faces a dual challenge: to meet the growing demand for mobility and reduce the environmental impact of journeys made. On top of this come new forms of mobility, such as car-sharing and the introduction of digital innovations (connected and driverless vehicle), marking the start of the “car transition”.

Car market growth

The number of vehicles on the road is growing all the time. In 2019, 100 million vehicles are likely to be sold. One of the main reasons for this is the increase in demand in emerging countries. China is the biggest contributor to rising global sales, followed by India.

In China, there was a five-fold increase in the number of cars between 2004 and 2014. Today, 3 out of every 10 new cars sold in the world are registered in China (source Ademe). 

Conversely, the number of vehicles on the road in Europe could fall by 80 million by 2030, due to the growth in car-sharing, according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). However vehicles are set to be used and renewed more.

Cars and the environment

Road transport has a significant impact on the environment:

93% of the energy used by transport is derived from oil.

Répartition de l'utilisation du pétrole par grands secteurs en Mb/j


Local pollution associated with CO (carbon monoxide), HC (unburned hydrocarbons), NOx (nitrogen oxides) and particle emissions; the majority of this is urban pollution, something that poses a genuine problem in the context of growing urban development. In 2050, 65% of the world’s population will be city dwellers.

Did you know?
Wear on tires and brakes produces fine particles, which depend on the type of journey, weather and driving style. They are in the region of 10 to 40 mg/km traveled, higher than the levels of exhaust emissions from recent vehicles, either petrol or diesel. The European standard on pollution sets a limit of 4.5 mg/km traveled for exhaust emissions.

The climate impact: globally, the transport sector is responsible for 23% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Waste associated with vehicle production and end-of-life processing.


Pollution control standards

Pollution control regulations play a pivotal role in driving technological changes to powertrains. They have accelerated the design of cleaner, more economical cars (particle filters, reduction in the sulfur content of fuels, etc.). 

Carbon monoxide (CO), unburned hydrocarbons (HC), nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particles for diesel engines are regulated on a European level. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is not regulated in the transport sector but European manufacturers have made a commitment to reduce it.

The European Union imposes increasingly restrictive emission thresholds on manufacturers: 

  • A first objective set for 2021 will require them to market a vehicle fleet emitting under 95 gCO2/km on average, failing which they will have to pay significant “penalties”,
  • Discussions underway at the European Commission may lead to the imposition of a further consumption reduction of between 30 and 50% between 2021 and 2030, compelling manufacturers to incorporate additional innovations in their vehicles and powertrains.

In France, the Climate plan sets an objective of ending the sale of gasoline and diesel cars by 2040.

Pollution control regulations play a pivotal role
in driving technological changes to powertrains.

Towards a car revolution?

To address growing environmental concerns, the transport sector has initiated its energy transformation: increased electrification of the car fleet (hybrid and all-electric vehicles), a ban on the most polluting vehicles, new mobility usages, etc. 

But the low rate of renewal of the vehicle fleet, the high costs of alternative technologies and dedicated infrastructures such as recharging stations, and the absence of adequate public incentive policies continue to hamper the large-scale roll-out of new transport solutions.

In France, 37% of vehicles are over 10 years old or the average age is 8.8 years.