The achievement is credited to the new technologies implemented by automotive manufacturers that increase the efficiency of the engines, as well as the scrappage incentive scheme that determined people to buy fuel-efficient cars. The global financial crisis is also considered to have had a contribution to this, as it made buyers opt for cars with smaller engines.
The average new car sold in the UK in 2009 emitted 149.5 grams of CO2/km, a 5.4 percent decrease as compared to the figure posted in 2009. The figure can also be translated into a 21.2 percent reduction as compared to the one registered in 1997, when this kind of data was gathered for the first time. The rate of the reduction was the best ever registered, three times the average rate since 1997.
The trend was followed throughout all the segments of the market, with MPVs (-28.6 percent) and SUVs (-27.4 percent) registering the greatest reduction as compared to the 1997 level. The greatest improvement compared to the previous year was achieved by compact and performance vehicles.
“Vehicle manufacturers have invested heavily in both improving conventional technologies and bringing advanced systems to market that reduce the environmental impact of new vehicles. Whilst scrappage incentives made a positive contribution to fleet renewal in 2009, there is a risk that over the next few years, motorists may be deterred from investing in the latest technology. Developing a long-term and consistent approach to vehicle taxation and environmental incentives will be important in maintaining the current rate of improvement.” said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive.
In December 2009, the UK adopted a new car CO2 standard stating that average emissions throughout a manufacturer’s range must not exceed 130g of CO2/km by 2015. Last year, 27.6 percent of the new cars registered in Britain emitted less than this value.