Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Carbon Dioxide Emission by Different Types of Cars

Scientific Essay, 2018

8 Pages, Grade: 1


Table of Contents

1.1 Objectives of the study







Climate change is increasingly becoming a threat to environmental sustainability. Automobiles are emitting considerable volumes of greenhouse gases to the environment. Carbon dioxide emission by cars is considered a challenge in combating greenhouse gas emissions. This study investigated the influence of car type and age and noted significant correlations. Some car models emit high CO2 than others. Similarly, old cars emit higher amounts of CO2 than new cars.


Climate change is increasingly becoming a threat to environmental health and safety (Brimblecombe, 2014). The vast concentration of gases that result in climate change emanates from vehicle emissions (EPA, 2017). One type of emission that these automobiles discharge is the carbon dioxide (CO2) gas. In most cases, there is a direct relationship between the quantity of fuel consumed by a car engine and the CO2 emissions of the vehicle. To date, there has been insignificant progress in reducing the CO2 emissions from cars despite the improvements in efficiencies of engines and the advancement in the reduction of emissions of air quality pollutants. The average discharge from a new car is approximately 120.1g/km of CO2 (Vehicle Certification Agency, 2017). However, different car models exhibit varying rates of CO2 emissions. In most cases, cars with larger engines emit more CO2 compared to those with smaller engines because the former often use more fuel (Goldblatt, 2012). With this in mind, this paper is an attempt to investigate how different types of cars contribute to CO2 emission to the environment.

1.1 Objectives of the study

i. To investigate whether car type influences the level of CO2 emission
ii. To investigate whether the vehicle age affects the level of CO2 emission


To date, there are various tools for estimating the level of CO2 emitted by different types of automobiles. For purposes of this research, the car emissions calculator provided by was the most suitable tool for evaluating the levels of CO2 emitted from different car models as well as the vehicle mileage. To determine the CO2 emissions from a particular car, the researcher keyed in several components including the manufacturer, vehicle model, engine size, mileage, and driving style. The website’s algorithm then determines the emission rates using such variables. For the selection of the car types to include in the study, the researcher utilized a stratified sampling of the different brands with reference to Leblanc’s (2014) list of the most popular car types in the world.


The research investigated a sample of eight cars out of the ten brands identified by Leblanc (2014). The sample consisted of four strata. These included BMW 3 series saloon and Honda civic; Ford Edge and Peugeot 108; Nissan 370 Z and Volkswagen Golf; as well as Toyota Avensis Saloon and Chevrolet Camaro Coupe. Furthermore, the selected brands represented some of the major car-manufacturing countries in the world, including Japan, Germany, United States, and France. Each of the chosen cars had an engine capacity of 1.5-3.7 liters. All the vehicles selected also used petrol and diesel as the primary fuel type. For the new vehicles, the researcher approximated the mileage to be 4000 miles or below. For the used cars, the researcher estimated a mileage of 12,000 miles and above. This estimate was in accordance with the Immihelp’s (2017) findings that a used car has a mileage of about 12,000.

Additionally, all vehicles selected for the research utilized an automatic transmission and were driving at a normal rate. In all the strata, the tailpipe was the most significant source of CO2 emission, followed by the fuel, and other parts respectively. All the data collected was from the real world rather than simulation. It is worth noting that majority of the strata showed a significant difference between the CO2 emitted by the new vehicles and the used cars (as shown in Table 1 and Table 2 respectively. In particular, categories consisting of BMW 3 series saloon and Honda Civic; Toyota Avensis Saloon and Chevrolet Camaro Coupe showed a significant increase in the level of CO2 emission from new cars to the used cars. Also, the stratum comprising Ford Edge and Peugeot 108 showed no change in the level of omission between the new cars and the used cars. Finally, the stratum consisting of the Nissan 370 Z and Volkswagen Golf showed varying results. The rate of CO2 emitted by the former remained the same for both new and used cars, whereas the latter showed an increase in the rate of CO2 emission when the car increased in age. Figure 1 and Figure 2 summarizes these findings.

Table 3.1: New Vehicles

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Table 3.2: Used Vehicles

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Figure 3.1: Levels of CO2 Emissions Stratum 1

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Figure 3.2: Level of Emissions in Stratum 2

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Figure 3.3: Level of Emissions in Stratum 3

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Figure 3.4: Level of Emissions in Stratum 4

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The results of this research indicate that indeed different types of cars have varying implications on the environment owing to the disparities in the level of the CO2 that they emit. In a study of the influences of CO2 emissions on the purchasing behavior of new cars, Nayum, Klöckner, and Prugsamatz (2013) found that the location of the buyer’s residence and the type of the car purchased had a direct association with the level of CO2. In this research, the attributes of the vehicle including the vehicle type, model, and driving style contributed significantly to the variations in the level of CO2 emissions among the types of cars studied. Similarly, Nayum, Klöckner, and Prugsamatz (2013) found that particular characteristics such as engine power, drive system, engine size, and engine power are essential determinants of the car model. It follows that all these qualities contribute differently to the variation in the emission of CO2 since they are dissimilar among various types of cars. The researchers also found that it is imperative to understand the unique features mentioned above since the automobiles that continue to penetrate the market in recent years demonstrate similarities in some of the peculiarities that differentiated automobiles in the past, such as the integration of four-wheel drive. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (2016) in its report of the carbon emissions from automobile technologies also found that attributes such as the interior volume of the car are not suitable for serving as components of differentiating emission levels among various car types.

It is also worth noting that the French cars, particularly, Peugeot, had lower levels of emission compared to the other types. A 2016 Phys. Org report also found that French car brands including Peugeot, Renault, and Citroen emitted the lowest CO2 in the European Union in line with the European Environment Agency (EEA) (Phys. Org, 2016). In this research, the U.S. car models showed a significantly higher rate of emission compared to the other car types. The Japanese and German faired moderately concerning the CO2 they emit. These findings concur with those of JATO Dynamics, a leading provider of vehicle intelligence and data. On the report, JATO found that the average CO2 emission of the U.S. light automobile market is approximately 255.6 g/km which excludes full-size vans and pick-up trucks. In contrast, the average CO2 emission by the big five car markets in Europe is 140.3 g/km while the Japanese car brands emit 130.8 g/km. Consequently, these figures show an unfavorable disparity in carbon emissions between the U.S. car brands and the other major manufacturing countries (JATO, 2010).

The vehicles selected for this study used either petrol or diesel as the primary type of fuel. Thus, there is a possibility that these fuel types account for the majority of the CO2 emissions. According to JATO (2010), the petrol and diesel car account for approximately 97.2% of the total CO2 emitted by vehicles. Notably, these findings concur with the results of this research, which identified the tail-pipe, which is a crucial part of the petrol and diesel cars, as the primary source of emission. In contrast, the JATO report found that the plug-in hybrid vehicles account for only 0.8% of the carbon emitted by vehicles while automobiles running on alternative sources of energy showed a 1.6% emission rate.

Regarding the second objective, the research found that the age of the vehicle is a significant determinant of the rate of carbon emission. Majority of the assessed cars showed a considerable variation between carbon emitted by the new and used automobiles. In particular, the latter had a higher rate of carbon emission for most of the car types. Ingram (2014) agrees that a used car emits more CO2 compared to a new car. In his analysis, Ingram (2014) contends that a used car consumes more fuel than a new automobile when traveling the same distance. As such, the former emits more CO2 into the environment (Ingram, 2014). Moreover, some of the selected car brands did not show any change in the rate of CO2 emission with respect to the age of the car. For instance, the Nissan 370Z and Peugeot 108 maintained an emission rate of 245 g/km and 97 g/km even after a mileage of 12,000 or more.


Overall, the findings of this research show that the car type and the age of the car have significant effects on the level of CO2 emissions. These results indicate that some of the car types are more eco-friendly than others. For instance, the study found the French cars to be more environmentally friendly compared to the other types while the U.S. car models show a higher level of CO2 emissions than the other car types. Regarding the car type, the kind of fuel used also has a significant impact on the CO2 emitted by the vehicle. In particular, petrol and diesel are the primary sources of the CO2 emitted by these cars. Importantly, the age of the car also contributes to its CO2 emissions. Vehicles that have traveled longer mileages tend to produce a higher rate of CO2 emissions that cars with lower mileage. Thus, understanding the key featuresof the different types of vehicles and their mileages is a crucial factor when assessing the extent to which an automobile is environmentally-friendly.


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Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Carbon Dioxide Emission by Different Types of Cars
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greenhouse, emissions, carbon, dioxide, emission, different, types, cars
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Patrick Kimuyu (Author), 2018, Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Carbon Dioxide Emission by Different Types of Cars, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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