Three-quarters of the 20 major car brands sold in Europe last year have failed to improve fuel efficiency at the rate needed to meet a key EU climate target, new figures show. Volkswagen, Europe’s biggest car brand in terms of sales, has improved fuel efficiency at less than half the rate needed. In contrast, Renault, Europe’s second biggest brand and a direct competitor of VW, is on track to meet the target for the average new car sold to emit 140 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometre by 2008. Renault reduced its emissions by twice as much as VW. These findings come from a study by Transport & Environment (T&E), the first to track the progress of individual car brands in reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions under the terms of a commitment made by the car industry to the EU in 1998-9. The deal also included an agreement not to disclose the performance of individual companies in cutting emissions. Improving fuel efficiency of new cars is a key method of tackling climate change because the more fuel a car uses, the more CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere. T&E commissioned the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), UK to analyse sales data from the period 1997-2005 supplied by R.L. Polk Marketing Systems GmbH, the primary data source used by the car industry. According to the study, 75% of carmakers are failing to cut emissions fast enough. Nissan is the worst performer in Europe followed by Suzuki, Mazda, Audi, Volvo, BMW and Volkswagen. These seven brands all cut emissions at less than half the rate needed to meet their commitment. Fiat is the best performer in Europe, followed by Citroen, Renault, Ford and Peugeot. All five are on track to meet or exceed the target by 2008. The study also found that Toyota, maker of the low-emission Prius hybrid, is failing to improve efficiency across its range at the rate needed. The study concludes that if climate targets are to be met, companies must improve efficiency across their entire range. One or two very efficient models that sell in limited numbers are not enough. Aat Peterse of T&E said, “Renault is on track while Volkswagen is way off even though Renault started with higher emissions in 1997. Clearly the target is achievable, but as long as seventy-five percent of carmakers go unpunished for their failure, we will never make the necessary progress. Europe must kiss its voluntary targets goodbye and waste no more time in coming up with legally-binding measures to double fuel-efficiency in the next decade. Individual carmakers must be held responsible and punished if they fail.” T&E is Europe’s principal environmental organisation campaigning specifically on transport. Together with its 44 member organisations in 20 European countries, T&E works to promote an environmentally-sound approach to transport and mobility.