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Reducing automotive emissions—The potentials of combustion engine technologies and the power of policy


  • Berggren, Christian
  • Magnusson, Thomas


Reducing transport emissions, in particular vehicular emissions, is a key element for mitigating the risks of climate change. In much of the academic and public discourse the focus has been on alternative vehicle technologies and fuels (e.g. electric cars, fuel cells and hydrogen), whereas vehicles based on internal combustion engines have been perceived as close to their development limits. This paper offers a different perspective by demonstrating the accelerated improvement processes taking place in established combustion technologies as a result of a new competition between manufacturers and technologies, encouraged both by more stringent EU legislation and new CAFE levels in the US. The short-term perspective is complemented by an analysis of future improvement potentials in internal combustion technologies, which may be realized if efficient regulation is in place. Based on a comparison of four different regulatory approaches, the paper identifies the need for a long-term technology-neutral framework with stepwise increasing stringencies, arguing that this will encourage continual innovation and diffusion in the most effective way.

Suggested Citation

  • Berggren, Christian & Magnusson, Thomas, 2012. "Reducing automotive emissions—The potentials of combustion engine technologies and the power of policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 636-643.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:41:y:2012:i:c:p:636-643
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2011.11.025

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:appene:v:204:y:2017:i:c:p:1188-1197 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Hanzhengnan Yu & Xingyu Liang & Gequn Shu & Xu Wang & Yuesen Wang & Hongsheng Zhang, 2016. "Experimental Investigation on Wall Film Distribution of Dimethyl Ether/Diesel Blended Fuels Formed during Spray Wall Impingement," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(11), pages 1-17, November.
    3. Uddin, Kotub & Moore, Andrew D. & Barai, Anup & Marco, James, 2016. "The effects of high frequency current ripple on electric vehicle battery performance," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 142-154.
    4. Dechezleprêtre, Antoine & Neumayer, Eric & Perkins, Richard, 2015. "Environmental regulation and the cross-border diffusion of new technology: Evidence from automobile patents," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 244-257.
    5. repec:eee:appene:v:227:y:2018:i:c:p:634-642 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Brand, Christian, 2016. "Beyond ‘Dieselgate’: Implications of unaccounted and future air pollutant emissions and energy use for cars in the United Kingdom," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 1-12.
    7. repec:gam:jeners:v:11:y:2018:i:9:p:2343-:d:167954 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:gam:jeners:v:10:y:2017:i:7:p:832-:d:102251 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Sprei, Frances & Karlsson, Sten, 2013. "Energy efficiency versus gains in consumer amenities—An example from new cars sold in Sweden," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 490-499.
    10. Barbieri, Nicolò, 2015. "Investigating the impacts of technological position and European environmental regulation on green automotive patent activity," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 140-152.
    11. Wells, Peter & Varma, Adarsh & Newman, Dan & Kay, Duncan & Gibson, Gena & Beevor, Jamie & Skinner, Ian, 2013. "Governmental regulation impact on producers and consumers: A longitudinal analysis of the European automotive market," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 28-41.
    12. Samira Ranaei & Matti Karvonen & Arho Suominen & Tuomo Kässi, 2016. "Patent-based technology forecasting: case of electric and hydrogen vehicle," International Journal of Energy Technology and Policy, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 12(1), pages 20-40.
    13. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:6:p:880-:d:99435 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Voltes-Dorta, Augusto & Perdiguero, Jordi & Jiménez, Juan Luis, 2013. "Are car manufacturers on the way to reduce CO2 emissions?: A DEA approach," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 77-86.
    15. Bergek, Anna & Berggren, Christian, 2014. "The impact of environmental policy instruments on innovation: A review of energy and automotive industry studies," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 112-123.
    16. Zhao, Jinxing, 2017. "Research and application of over-expansion cycle (Atkinson and Miller) engines – A review," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 185(P1), pages 300-319.


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