Which motorization to choose?

Published on 4 May, 2018

Car manufacturers offer a wide choice of engines and it is not easy for consumers to find their way around. Gasoline or diesel, hybrid, electric, natural gas or hydrogen? The many recent statements and articles in the press have created confusion in the minds of consumers. The House of Automobile, which brings together the federations ADAL, FEGARLUX, MOBIZ and FEBIAC, provides some clarifications on the subject. Car manufacturers have aligned themselves with European standards for CO2, NOX and other pollutants emissions and have invested significantly in the production of cleaner vehicles and the development of alternative engines. Between 1995 and 2005, the average CO2 emission rate was reduced by 36%. Over the same period, NOX emissions decreased by 84% and fine particulate emissions by 90%. The automotive industry has made a commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 42% by 2021(1).

In 2017, the European Commission will introduce, in agreement with the manufacturers, two new emission test cycles whose results will be closer to reality. The WLTP (World Light Testing Procedure) which is a laboratory test cycle and the RDE (Real Driving Emissions) which is a road test cycle.

In 2016, diesel cars accounted for 64.7% of total sales in Luxembourg and this percentage is decreasing faster than the European average. However, it is important to note that the average CO2 emissions from diesel cars are lower than those from petrol cars (-10%). A too rapid replacement of diesel vehicles by petrol vehicles would increase total CO2 emissions. In terms of fine particulate matter (PM/PN), the Euro 6 standard sets the same limit between diesel and petrol engines. Recent unfavourable statements against diesel are causing consumer uncertainty, despite the enormous progress made in emissions.
The announcement of diesel restrictions in some European cities is also raising doubts in the minds of consumers, whereas in most cases this does not concern recent diesel vehicles meeting Euro 6 standards. From an economic point of view, and in terms of CO2 emissions, diesel is currently still the best choice for large rollers and manufacturers still have to take these needs into account in the future. The transition from diesel to petrol and other engines will therefore be a gradual phenomenon.

We are undoubtedly moving towards electrification of the vehicle fleet. Manufacturers are offering an increasing number of electric and hybrid car models and technologies are evolving rapidly. The Luxembourg government has adopted a proactive and consistent approach by combining the installation of 800 public charging stations with a tax allowance of €5,000 for electric vehicles purchased by a private customer.

The evolution of batteries, which increases range, is a very positive factor in the development of electric car sales. The hybrid plug-in is an interesting alternative when the driver decides to charge the vehicle regularly.

Vehicles running on natural gas emit 20% less CO2 and 95% less fine particles and are less noisy (-60%). Currently, there are more than 2.8 million natural gas vehicles in the world and a growing number of gas stations offer this fuel. The purchase price of a car running on natural gas is up to €3,000 higher than a petrol car, but this supplement can be amortized if you drive more than 20,000 km per year.

For its part, hydrogen seems to be a solution for a very long-term future. The vehicles equipped with a fuel cell emit no pollutants. The problem of the cost of production hydrogen and the availability of refuelling stations is still an obstacle to the development of hydrogen vehicles.

In conclusion, the House of Automobile proposes an integrated approach to sustainable mobility by combining several factors:

Renewal of the vehicle park

Replacing older vehicles with new, cleaner ones is an effective solution. Accelerating vehicle replacement is therefore an essential factor in greening the vehicle fleet. Luxembourg is in an enviable position since its car fleet is renewed much more quickly than that of neighbouring countries.


The promotion of eco-responsible behaviour could lead to a reduction in C02 emissions in the order of 15% (adapted speed, route planning, avoid leaving idling, driver training, etc.)

Improving infrastructure

According to recent studies, road maintenance and improved pavement quality could reduce emissions by 1 to 2%.

The Technology

ITS (Intelligent Transport System) and connectivity (navigation system, time information eCall) can help reduce fuel consumption, improve traffic flow and therefore reduce CO2 emissions by 5 to 20%.

The House of Automobile is committed to working closely with the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure to promote alternative powertrains. A working group is currently being set up.