There’s no denying that over the last five years, car manufacturers have finally started to get their act together and deliver meaningful improvements in the fuel efficiency of new models, rather than just boosting performance and spec levels.
According to new data published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders in its New Car CO2 Report, the current crop of new cars are 18% more fuel efficient than the average car on the road.
Data analysing the emissions of all new cars registered in the UK showed a continued trend in falling emissions and improving fuel efficiency. 2011 emissions fell by 4.2% year on year to 138.1g/km CO2 (equivalent to 52.5mpg), down by more than 23% since reporting began in 2000.
The Report shows that in 2011, almost half of new cars (46.8%) had emissions below the 2015 European legislative target of 130g/km CO2. Additionally, over 65,000 vehicles were exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) with sub-100g/km cars (equivalent to about 70mpg,) almost doubling their market share to 3.4%.
Reductions in average emissions were made across all segments (car sizes) 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 7.0% 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:
“Industry can be proud of the progress it has made in reducing CO2 emissions and improving fuel efficiency, 23 per cent since 2000. The UK motor 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, R&D, 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.”
Improvements in emissions and fuel efficiency are long overdue after decades during which manufacturers seemed to concentrate only on performance and luxury.
The fact that car manufacturers are making dramatic improvements following widespread legislation to penalise owners of more polluting vehicles just proves that governments are right to intervene in areas such as this. Sometimes a gentle shove is necessary to set the ball in motion – and although low emission technologies are far from perfect, they will undoubtedly improve as they mature.