The Great Misconception: Consumers Think of German Cars As Sustainable, Yet They Are Among the Biggest Polluters

The Great Misconception: Consumers Think of German Cars As Sustainable, Yet They Are Among the Biggest Polluters

Posted 12 February, 2021 at 11:00

Author Mark Bradshaw on behalf of (IFM) Independent Forecourt Magazine


  • Germans believe BMW and Mercedes-Benz build the most environmentally friendly cars alongside Toyota
  • Disparity between perception and reality could hardly be greater
  • Mercedes-Benz has largest carbon footprint with 140.9 g/km average CO2 emissions for new cars
  • 125% more investor conferences in the automotive industry since 2015 with sustainability as a topic for discussion
  • New cars sold in the first half of 2020 with 4.4% lower emissions than in the same period last year

Germans think of BMW and Mercedes-Benz as building the most environmentally friendly vehicles, alongside Toyota. As a new infographic from "Handelskontor" shows, the opposite is in fact the case. New Mercedes-Benz cars have average CO2 emissions of 140.9 g/km, landing them in the inglorious number one spot. Toyota comes in at the other end of the scale with an average of 97.5 g/km. 

Mercedes aside, cars from Audi and BMW also have above-average CO2 values. The situation is somewhat better at Volkswagen. Nevertheless, Toyota is streets ahead in terms of sustainability. Vehicles from French brands Citroen, Peugeot and Renault also produce significantly less CO2 than those of German premium manufacturers. However, just 6% of Germans believe that Renault produces particularly environmentally friendly cars.

Meanwhile, the infographic illustrates the increasing attention the topic of sustainability is receiving from carmakers. Sustainability was a major topic of discussion at a total of 320 investor conferences in 2019, compared to just 142 in 2015, representing an increase of 125%.

The most recent development demonstrates that manufacturers are putting their money where their mouth is: emissions from the 1.2 million new cars sold in the first half of 2020 were 4.4% below the previous year's level. Almost all brands showed improvements, including the traditional German manufacturers. BMW reduced its CO2 emissions by 9%, Mercedes by 6.6%. At Audi and Volkswagen, the reduction was 5.6% and 4.8% respectively. 

"The average CO2 emissions produced by cars from German premium manufacturers are probably so high not least because they sell comparatively few small cars," adds Handelskontor editor Raphael Lulay. "However, the companies are eager to turn things around and to increasingly focus on ecology. While some initial successes are already apparent, Mercedes & Co. are still far from being at the forefront of sustainability in the automotive sector. The tide could quickly turn, however, given that the German automotive industry has demonstrated its ability to reinvent itself several times. 

The full story with the infographic, facts and more statistics:

https://handelskontor-news.de/news/the-great-misconception-consumers-think-of-german-cars-as-sustainable-yet-they-are-among-the-biggest-polluters/

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