Emissions, performance, and design of UK passenger vehicles

N. P.D. Martin, J. D.K. Bishop, A. M. Boies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Consumer, legal, and technological factors influence the design, performance, and emissions of light-duty vehicles (LDVs). This work examines how design choices made by manufacturers for the UK market result in emissions and performance of vehicles throughout the past decade (2001–2011). LDV fuel consumption, CO2 emissions, and performance are compared across different combinations of air and fuel delivery system using vehicle performance metrics of power density and time to accelerate from rest to 100 km/h (62 mph, tz-62). Increased adoption of direct injection and turbocharging technologies helped reduce spark ignition (SI, gasoline vehicles) and compression ignition (CI, diesel vehicles) fuel consumption by 22% and 19%, respectively, over the decade. These improvements were largely achieved by increasing compression ratios in SI vehicles (3.6%), turbocharging CI vehicles, and engine downsizing by 5.7–6.5% across all technologies. Simultaneously, vehicle performance improved, through increased engine power density resulting in greater acceleration. Across the decade, tz-62 fell 9.4% and engine power density increased 17% for SI vehicles. For CI vehicles, tz-62 fell 18% while engine power density rose 28%. Greater fuel consumption reductions could have been achieved if vehicle acceleration was maintained at 2001 levels, applying drive train improvements to improved fuel economy and reduced CO2 emissions. Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions declined at faster rates once the European emissions standards were introduced with SI CO2 emissions improving by 3.4 g/km/year for 2001–2007 to 7.8 g/km/year thereafter. Similarly, CI LDVs declined by 2.0 g/km/year for 2001–2007 and 6.1 g/km/year after.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-236
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainable Transportation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 16 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge the EPSRC funding provided for this work under the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight Transport (EP/K00915X/1) and the Energy Efficient Cities Initiative (EP/F034350/1).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC © N. P. D. Martin, J. D. K. Bishop, and A. M. Boies.


  • CO emissions
  • fuel economy
  • light-duty vehicles
  • vehicle design


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