New cars now 18% more fuel efficient than average car on the road

AVERAGE new car CO2 emissions fell 4.2% in 2011 and have fallen by more than 23% since 2000 (181 g/km on average), according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders in its 11th annual ‘New Car CO2 Report’.


The data analysing the emissions of all new cars registered in theUKshow a continued trend in falling emissions and improving fuel efficiency.


Last year the average emissions of a newly registered car was 138.1 g/km, which is equivalent to 52.5 mpg – 18% more economic than the average car on the road.


However, fleet buyers typically travel a higher average mileage than private motorists so may opt for a larger car, although to contain costs and reduce company car tax they are likely to minimise emissions. Last year average new car CO2 emissions for fleet cars were 1.7% below the private buyer average at 137.1 g/km and 139.5 g/km respectively.

Rising sales of diesel and alternatively fuelled models were key factors to the continuing emissions decline.


However, the SMMT also said that improved market share by fuel efficiency/CO2 conscious fleet buyers and lower than average emitting supermini models also contributed to the strong performance in recent years. The current challenging economic setting had further increased consumer awareness and the desire to reduce running costs and purchase lower CO2 -emitting cars.


The Report shows that in 2011, almost half of new cars (46.8%) had emissions below the 2015 European legislative target of 130 g/km. Additionally, over 65,000 vehicles were exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) with sub-100g/km cars (equivalent to about 70 mpg,) almost doubling their market share to 3.4%.


Reductions in average emissions were made across all market segments versus 2010, contributing to the significant drop over the past decade. Executive and specialist sports made the biggest reduction over the past year, falling 9.5% and 7% respectively on 2010 figures while the executive (-34.9%) and mini (-29.9%) segments recorded the biggest improvements against the 2000 levels.


Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘TheUKmotor industry recognises its responsibilities and the industrial opportunities from the transition to ultra-low carbon vehicles. Future environmental and economic success will be determined by sustained investment in new technology, research and development, infrastructure and consumer incentives. We are seeing steady improvement in conventional technologies and the emergence of a range of alternative technologies, creating one of the most innovative periods for the global automotive industry.’


Achieving record market shares, diesel and alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) continued their rise in popularity, taking 50.6% and 1.3% of the 2011 market respectively.


Petrol-electric hybrids accounted for 92% of allAFVvolumes in 2011 with an average emissions output of 104 g/km, some 25% below theUKaverage.


Though market development is in its earliest stages, electric vehicle registrations rose by 557% in 2011 to 1,098 units, aided by the introduction of new models and the Plug-In Car Grant.


Every vehicle manufacturer has its own emissions target set by the European Union, based on the weight of the cars it sells. The individual targets combine to make the 130 g/km average set for 2015. In 2012, 65% of the fleet must comply, with the proportion increasing towards total fleet compliance in 2015. However, there is an ultimate target of 95 g/km CO2 by 2020, subject to impact assessment.


However, for the UK to meet the legislative target of an average 95 g/km CO2 by 2020, successive governments must commit to a strong long-term industrial policy that provides the certainty required by international firms to sustain investments in low carbon research and development, says the SMMT.


Additionally, Government needs to provide consistency on taxation and maintain and expand incentives like the Plug-In Car Grant, which encourage consumers to move towards low carbon and more fuel-efficient technologies, said the organisation.


The full 2012 SMMT ‘New Car CO2 Report’ is free to download from

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