This paper analyses decarbonisation scenarios for the European passenger car fleet in 2050. The scenarios have been developed using the backcasting approach and aim to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of passenger cars to a level defined in the Transport White paper that is 60% below 1990 levels. Considering the emission levels of 2010, a yearly reduction of 1.7% is required in order to achieve the target. Car emissions were decomposed into the main emission factors of mobility, efficiency and carbon intensity. How these factors change over time depends on various external factors: the pace of technological improvements, the future role of cars in society’s mobility system and the priority given to decarbonising energy demand. The analysis showed that if car mobility and ownership continue to increase as expected in a ‘business as usual’ case, a share of 97% plug-in hybrid or battery electric vehicles might be required by 2050, together with a substantial decrease in greenhouse gas emission from electricity production. A transition to more advanced car technology such as automated driving, advanced batteries or lightweight materials in vehicle production would raise vehicle efficiency. Should car mobility continue at a high level, an early technology transition will be required.
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