Engine output of new German cars has been rising for 20 years

In Germany, you can usually rely on two things that will increase in the long term: prices, of course, and the engine power of new cars. In view of the EU’s CO2 targets, this is not an encouraging sign. After all, performance usually goes hand in hand with fuel consumption – and with it CO2 emissions. Whether you look back ten or twenty years, the trend is unbroken. The average engine power increases. And it does so in all segments, although to varying degrees depending on the vehicle category. JATO Dynamics has taken a look at the past 20 years to see which segments have grown most and where performance has only increased moderately. In comparison to that, it has also looked at the development of average engine capacities. The result is quite surprising.

An engine capacity timeline

In 1999, the engines of the smallest cars averaged 56 hp. By 2009, 11 hp had been added, and by 2019 the figure will have risen by a further 10 hp. Doesn’t sound like much at first, but it is an increase of a good 36 percent. Quite respectable. But it is the smallest performance increase of all segments. Even the next higher passenger car class (small cars) has almost 59 percent more power.

This is the same across all segments. The increase in performance almost correlates with the size of the segment: the larger the vehicle, the greater the performance explosion. It is therefore not entirely surprising that the big or luxury SUVs are at the top of the list. They increased by a whopping 83 percent. This means they are even outperforming sports cars. In 20 years, their fitness cure was “only” 110 hp. But even that is still more than 65 percent.

Downsizing ensures lower CO2 emissions

Nevertheless, the emission values are declining. And this is due to downsizing. The engines are getting smaller. What is meant is: the average displacement is becoming smaller. At least in most segments. The sports cars have been bored out by almost 11 percent. And the upper mid-range segment has reached three and a half percent – but since 2009 their engines have become smaller again. The biggest leap downwards is made by small and medium-sized SUVs with more than 20 percent. The trend towards downsizing has led to an overall drop in consumption. Nevertheless, pressure on manufacturers is increasing because even like that they will not be able to meet the stricter climate targets. One solution could be to reduce the engine output of internal combustion vehicles again.

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