Ecoscore has been monitoring the environmental performance of the Belgian car fleet for 20 years. In 2022, more new plug-in cars than new diesel cars were registered for the first time, but the balance is not entirely positive.

Following the 20th anniversary of the Ecoscore project, the website was revamped. This environmental score estimates the environmental performance of a vehicle according to its main environmental impact. It also includes statistics on the evolution of the Belgian fleet. Users can now consult the statistics themselves with the easy-to-use data visualisation tool. In the 2022 statistics, we never before saw so many electric and hybrid cars making their way onto our Belgian roads. But there are also less positive evolutions.

What is Ecoscore?

Ecoscore is an environmental score for all cars - new and old(er) - that gives an indication of a vehicle's overall environmental friendliness on a scale of 0 to 100. The higher the score, the more environmentally friendly the vehicle.  

To calculate the score, several harmful effects are taken into account: greenhouse effect, air quality (health effects & effects on ecosystems) and noise pollution. Both emissions during driving and impacts associated with fuel production (such as electricity generation for electric vehicles and oil refining for diesel) are included. The Ecoscore environmental assessment combines these different impacts into one indicator. Ecoscore goes beyond CO2 emissions or Euronorm, making it the ideal way to neutrally compare the carbon footprint of different cars using different fuels.

On the website, users can look up a vehicle's Ecoscore themselves using their chassis number, or by make and model. You can also calculate the Ecoscore yourself.

New features on the Ecoscore website

Following the 20th anniversary of the project, the Ecoscore website - supported by the three regions - was revamped.

  • Renewed search and calculation module
  • A colour scale shows at a glance how well your car scores
  • Using your chassis number, you can easily look up the Ecoscore of your own car
  • There is now a separate section for taxis, which takes into account the Flemish taxi legislation

But the Ecoscore project goes beyond awarding a valuable environmental score. It also tracks the evolution of the Belgian fleet and publishes statistics about it. Users can now also look up those statistics themselves via various search functions (by region, lease vs. private, ...) in a practical data visualisation tool.

New tool for statistics on

Fewer new cars, more plug-in cars

For 2022, the big drop in new car registrations is striking. Never in the last 25 years have so few new cars been registered as in 2022: just over 368,000, down 4% on 2021, and 33% on 2019. Registrations were already declining during the corona years, but persistent supply problems in the car market and the economic malaise further reinforced this process.

New plug-in cars - battery electric cars (BEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) - did do well. More than 95,000 of these cars were sold for the first time in 2022. That is a lot more than the number of new diesel cars (60,000), which ensured that we achieved the lowest average CO2 emissions since the start of the Ecoscore project. CO2 emissions (NEDC) dipped below 90 g/km for the first time. 10.2% of newly registered cars are BEV, which for the first year is better than the Flemish 2020 target of 7.5%. The big driver behind this increase was companies: no fewer than 89% of new plug-in cars are company cars (including lease cars).

Less positive trends too

Yet we see two trends that have a negative impact on the environment and road safety. 

For the first time, more SUVs (51%) were sold than other cars. An SUV is heavier, less aerodynamic and more powerful than comparable alternatives. That is why they emit more CO2 and have a lower Ecoscore. The environmental progress could therefore be more significant if people opted less for an SUV.

More SUVs than other cars for the first time

Due to the rising popularity of SUVs and the increasing share of plug-in cars, the average weight of new cars has increased by more than 10% in the past three years (after years of stagnation). This is an evolution that is not ideal in terms of road safety either. Although BEVs and PHEVs have obvious environmental benefits, they are heavier than a classic combustion engine car. A new petrol car weighed 1337kg on average in 2022, while a new PHEV stayed just under 2 tonnes (1946kg), and a new BEV weighed even more than 2 tonnes (2055kg).

Most popular models

The most popular models by fuel illustrate the above findings.

  • The most popular petrol car from '22 was the Dacia Sandero, averaging 1155kg.
  • The most popular BEV from '22 was the SUV Tesla Model Y, 2041kg on average.
  • The most popular PHEV from '22 was the large SUV BMW X5, 2510kg on average.

Ecoscore and policy

Ecoscore is an important policy tool for the regions. Both in Flanders and in the Brussels-Capital Region, all new government vehicles must achieve a minimum Ecoscore, taking into account their segment. To obtain a licence, taxis in Flanders must also meet a minimum Ecoscore, as must share cars in Brussels.

On to the next 20 years

Due to the increasing weight of electric and plug-in hybrid cars and the fact that material use is rightly attracting more and more attention - just think of the content of rare raw materials in the ever-growing batteries in electric cars - the Ecoscore project is far from over after 20 years. In 2023, EnergyVille / VITO and VUB experts will investigate whether and how material use - including battery production and recycling - can be integrated into the Ecoscore in the future.

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