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For many years vehicle manufacturers have been working to reduce the environmental impact of their products and manufacturing processes. Achieving the right balance of economic progress, environmental care and social responsibility is of vital importance.

The motor industry was the first to produce a sector-wide sustainability report. This celebrated its thirteenth year in 2012 and details the environmental achievements of the industry.

Looking for advice on how to save on fuel costs and reduce emissions? Click here to read our top tips.

In the last 10 years, huge strides have been made to reduce the environmental impact of its products throughout the life cycle. Since 2000, improvements in production processes mean energy used to produce vehicles is down 28%, water use is has been cut by 34% and 73% less waste enters landfill sites. Average new car tailpipe CO2 emissions have also been slashed and are down 17% compared to 10 years ago.

Looking to the future, industry will continue to drive down emissions as technical progress and a collaborative government approach will help to move the UK towards a more sustainable and low carbon future.

There are several key environmental policies which will affect the UK automotive industry and more details can be found in SMMT’s Annual Automotive Sustainability Report.

Tailpipe CO2 emissions

In 2009, an ambitious piece of legislation was passed which committed European car manufacturers to cut average CO2 emissions from new cars to 130g/km by 2015 and about 95g/km by 2020. In the last 10 years, average new car tailpipe CO2 emissions are down 17%.  Car parc CO2 emissions have fallen by 4.4% over the last decade, despite an 18.4% increase in the number of cars on the roads and a 9.8% increase in distance travelled. SMMT produces an overview of the new car market and its environmental impact in its annual New Car CO2 Report.

In October 2010, SMMT hosted a workshop to ensure that the expectations of both small volume manufacturers and the European Commission are aligned during the application process for CO2 derogation. You can click through to download the presentation slides and Q&A summary from the day.

The Van (Light Commercial Vehicle) CO2 Regulation (EU) No. 510/2011 mirrors the above New Car CO2 Regulation No. (EC) 443/2009 with each manufacturer having its own overall European fleet average CO2 target.  It sets a European fleet average target target of 175g CO2/km, phased-in between 2014 and 2017 and a long-term target of 147g/km in 2020. Each manufacturer’s target is based on the weight of each new van it registers in the EU in a given year. Only the fleet average is regulated, so manufacturers can still make vehicles with higher emissions provided these are balanced by lower carbon vehicles.

Industry has made significant improvements to CO2 emission levels in recent years and recognises its responsibility to deliver ongoing environmental improvements. In setting emission targets, a balanced approach is required that considers economic and social factors. Additionally, for these advances to continue, an integrated approach from road transport industries, governments, fuel companies and other stakeholders is critical.

Industry welcomes the legal certainty on the targets to plan for and will work towards meeting them. The targets will be challenging, particularly the long-term target. They will require market transformation to bring forward breakthrough technologies that are not yet cost effective for commercial vehicle buyers. Affordability is a key point because vans are bought by commercial operators, whose purchase criteria are determined by their businesses.

In recent years, vehicle manufacturers have been investing huge resources in developing lower emitting vehicles and technologies.

The following are some top tips that could save motorists up to 15-20% in fuel costs and emissions and help reduce their impact on the environment.

1. Drive smoothly, accelerate gently and brake sensibly – use the natural momentum of the car.

2. Monitor your fuel consumption and try to improve – make it your aim to get more from the tank every time you fill up.

3. Change into a higher gear at the most economical point – this usually means at around 2,500 rpm in petrol cars and 2,000 rpm in diesel cars.

4. Anticipate conditions and plan your journey. Avoid peak times and areas of known congestion.

5. Check your tyre pressures (and condition) regularly. Incorrectly inflated tyres can increase fuel consumption by up to 10% – and can endanger lives.

6. In stationary traffic or in temporary parking, switch off your engine.

7. Remove unnecessary weight from your car. An unused roof box could increase fuel consumption by up to 10%.

8. Use optional equipment sparingly. Turn the air conditioning off if you don’t need it.

9. Service the car regularly. Missing a service is a false economy.

10. Think about alternatives to the car. Public transport can be relaxing, clean and reasonably priced.

European engine emission standards

Euro engine emission standards were introduced in the early 1990s to reduce other pollutants from vehicles. They have led to significant improvements in emissions of nitrogen oxides, particulates and hydrocarbons from passenger cars, vans and trucks. Since 1992, NOx emissions have been reduced by around 67% and diesel particulates have dropped by 94%.

Euro 5 (light duty vehicles) is due to come into effect for all new passenger cars in 2011.  Euro V is already standard for all new commercial vehicles. The Euro 6 standard will be required for new types of car from 2014 and vans from 2015.  Euro VI applies to heavy duty commercial vehicles from 2013.

Energy efficiency regimes

In addition to efforts to reduce CO2 from the tailpipes of vehicles, industry has also put effort into reducing emissions from the manufacturing process. There are several energy efficiency regimes that the industry is covered by, the mandatory EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EUETS), the voluntary UK Climate Change Agreements (CCAs), and the mandatory UK Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) energy efficiency scheme and Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS).

SMMT’s METS (Manufacturers Energy and Trading Schemes) working group was set up to help the sector comply with the CCAs, an agreement set up between industry and government to achieve a discount on the climate change levy (CCL) by meeting emissions reductions targets. This group also covers the EU ETS, CRC, ESOS and other areas of manufacturing energy use and how that relates to government policy.

SMMT’s members have made significant improvements in energy efficiency, including reducing emissions covered by the CCA by over 50% in relative terms (energy use per vehicle) between 1995 and 2012 and by 20% in absolute emissions in the EU ETS area between 2008 and 2012. New phases of both CCAs and EU ETS began in 2013, which saw significant changes in the scope of emissions covered.

Click through to find out more about SMMT’s CCA, including how to join.

Vehicle recycling

The automobile is already one of the most effectively recovered and recycled consumer products, with its parts being used again in vehicles or for other purposes. The metals used in its manufacture are routinely recovered, reused and recycled to high levels. The challenge is to recover non-metallic parts to enable the very high levels required by law.

The End of Life Vehicle (ELV) Directive seeks to increase the level of reuse and recycling of vehicles, improve environmental standards at sites processing ELVs and limit the use of material harmful to the environment in new vehicles.

The UK auto industry is committed to sustainable development and in 2010 achieved 85% reuse, recycling or recovery by weight of end of life vehicles.  The industry is working to ensure that a 95% target will be met by 2015 in order to comply with the ELV Directive.

European Fuel Quality Directive

From 1 January 2011, the Fuel Quality Directive (2009/30/EC) enables the marketing of new fuels, in particular E10 unleaded petrol, which contains up to 10% ethanol. Fuel suppliers are not expected to market this fuel in the near future, however, in due course, E10 will be introduced and may become the main grade of unleaded petrol towards the latter half of the decade.

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has published a list of vehicles compatible with E10 petrol (regularly updated) on its website. This applies to fuels meeting the current EN228:2008 specification only; if you would like any further information please contact your manufacturer.  A “protection grade” of unleaded fuel, which with no more than the current maximum 5% ethanol, will continue to be made available for vehicles that are incompatible with E10.

In due course, diesel will change to a mixture that contains up to 7% FAME (Fatty Acid Methyl Ester), more commonly known as ‘B7′.

All gas oil for use in all non-road mobile machines (NRMM) – known as ‘Red Diesel’ – must contain no more than 10 milligrams of sulphur per kilogram of fuel. This is a reduction of 99% (from the current 1000 mg/kg limit) and brings the sulphur level in the NRMM fuel to the same low level as already exists in the (white) diesel used by road vehicles.

You can also download an SMMT briefing about the changes to specifications of Non-road Gas Oil (Red Diesel) for more detailed information.

What is the motor industry doing to stop global warming?

During the last decade, the UK motor industry has made progress against a wide range of environmental indicators, new car CO2 emissions, total energy consumed and CO2 emitted from manufacturing. You can learn more by downloading the annual SMMT Sustainability Report and the SMMT New Car CO2 report.

Wouldn’t it be better if we stopped making new vehicles?

The majority of life cycle CO2 emissions of a vehicle come from the use phase. That is, 10% comes from production, 85% from the use phase and 5% from recycling. In the last decade, CO2 emitted from the tailpipe has reduced by 22% to 2010.

What is the industry doing to reduce emissions from vehicles?

Industry has reduced tailpipe CO2 emission by 22% in the last decade to 2010. The improvement in performance can be attributed to a number of factors. In recent years, vehicle manufacturers have been investing huge resources in developing lower emitting vehicles and technologies. Industry is looking forward to a 25% reduction in new car CO2 through the European Commission Regulation, to 130g/km by 2012-15, with an additional 10g/km from ‘complementary measures’.

When are we going to see alternative fuels?

Alternative fuels are available today. Flex-fuel vehicles which run on E85 (85 per cent bio-ethanol/15% fossil fuel blend) can be purchased from car showrooms now. Conventional fuels in the market are currently 5% biofuel for petrol (EN228) and 7% for diesel (EN590). Some manufacturers are also working on the use of hydrogen as an alternative to diesel and petrol as well as electric. Registrations of alternatively fuelled vehicles rose by 52.8% in 2010 to 22,865 units. This is 64 times the number in 2000.

How many vehicles are recycled every year?

Under the End of Life Vehicle Directive, in place since 2007, every car which comes to the end of its life can be recycled free of charge to the customer at an Authorised Treatment Facility. This means that up to 95% of the weight of the vehicle will be recycled and reused.

Should manufacturers recycle every vehicle free of charge?

It is now the manufacturers’ responsibility to recycle all cars which have come to the end of their use, under the End of Life Vehicle directive if there is a cost. The consumer should take their vehicle to an authorised treatment facility, where they will be presented with a certificate of destruction.

What does sustainability mean to the motor industry?

The motor industry sees sustainability as a commitment to the environmental, economical and social welfare of everyone working both in the sector and those affected by it. Each year SMMT reports on this through its annual Sustainability Report.

Why are we still using petrol and diesel to fuel vehicles?

All manufacturers are working to develop alternative powertrains. However in the interim conventional engines are more fuel efficient than ever before and Euro engine emission standards introduced in the early 1990s have led to significant improvements in emissions of nitrogen oxides, particulates and hydrocarbons from passenger cars, vans and trucks. Since 1992, NOx emissions have been reduced by around 67% and diesel particulates have dropped by 94%.

UK automotive boosts jobs, turnover and cuts out waste

SMMT’s 15th annual Automotive Sustainability Report says estimated 44,000 new jobs created in auto sector in 2013, boosting total jobs past 750,000. Manufacturing-specific jobs grew by 14,000 to more than 160,000. Sector turnover grew 10.3% versus 2012 to £64.1 billion.

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Plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles ‘champions’ of advanced propulsion

Electrification and hydrogen fuel cell technology will both be instrumental in powering vehicles in the near future. This was the message delivered as Kevin E Layden, Global Director of Powertrain Engineering for Ford Motor Company, and Frank Meijer, Head of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle at Hyundai Motor Europe, debated strategies for advanced propulsion at the 2014 SMMT International Automotive Summit.

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Investors showing ‘real interest’ in UK automotive low-carbon development

Speaking at SMMT’s Open Forum event in the West Midlands, Joe Greenwell, CEO of the Automotive Investment Organisation, said that there is ‘real interest’ from investors in UK automotive’s growing aptitude for low-carbon R&D. “It is fair to say that UK has made reasonable progress so far in its investment-attracting projects,” said Greenwell. “We have Read more

UK passes EU new car CO2 emissions landmark

New cars registered last year in the UK collectively met a European target for CO2 emissions, according to a new report published today by industry body SMMT. In its New Car CO2 Report 2014, SMMT revealed that the average new car in the UK emits 128.3g/km CO2 – a 3.6% decrease over last year that passes the 2015 EU-wide fleet average target of 130g/km CO2.

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Decade’s fastest growth sees almost 32 million cars on the road

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Environmental Audit Committee report on Air Quality

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Environmental Audit Committee report on the Green Investment Bank

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London Electric Vehicle Delivery Plan

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, has launched an “Electric Vehicle Delivery Plan” for London. The document forms the basis of the Mayor’s aspirations to make London a leading centre for electric vehicles (EVs).

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EU Climate Change and Energy Package

The European Commission presented a series of proposals in January 2008 as a legislative response to the political commitments made by EU governments in March 2007 on energy and climate change targets, including to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020 and increasing renewable energy use by 20% by 2020.

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ARUP/Cenex study for BERR/DfT

BERR and the Department for Transport have published a study into the electrification of road transport by Cenex, the UK Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell, and technologies and engineering consultants Arup.

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ASA 2008 Annual Report

In review of the past year, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has issued its annual report, “Effective self-regulation: Keeping advertising standards high”.

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Saving energy, saving money

SMMT, in association with the RMI and the Carbon Trust, has published the Dealer Energy Efficiency Guide providing expert advice on how best to reduce your energy use and improve your bottom line profits.

The automotive industry is committed to improving its environmental performance throughout the sector and will continue to support dealerships and their efforts to increase energy efficiency with zero or very low cost measures.

The average dealership could save up to £10,000 a year by cutting its energy use… and £4,000 of this could be saved without spending a penny.

SMMT has published a detailed Guide which provides steps on how best to take action to reduce energy use and improve business profits. Its findings are based on visits to a sample of dealerships across the UK, by a Carbon Trust-appointed consultant which found that significant savings could be made, often only resulting from small changes.

The survey revealed that savings of 25% are possible with modest undertakings. This is equivalent to £10,000, given the gas and electricity costs in an averaged-sized dealership, which is typically paying £40,000 per year. Energy savings of 10%, or £4,000, are possible from zero cost activities.

As energy costs are widely expected to increase over time, action now will deliver increased benefits in the future.

SMMT has also developed some guidance and tips for saving water and how best to dispose of waste. These follow many of the same basic principles of how to become energy efficient and suggest adopting a seven step action plan for change.

SMMT has summarised the key steps towards improving your environmental performance in the video below.

To download the full Guide, click here, or for a brief summary click here.

Undertake the seven step action plan

Step 1: Appoint an energy champion

Appoint an appropriate person to drive energy management and provide senior level support and endorsement.

Step 2: Develop an energy policy

Produce a written energy policy for the Group or site which is signed and approved by the most senior manager and communicated to all employees.

Step 3: Identify meters and invoices

Identify the location of all utility meters and gain regular access to all utility invoices.

Step 4: Monitor and target energy use

Read meters regularly, plot consumption, check usage against targets, identify waste and take corrective action.

Step 5: Conduct regular energy walkabouts

Conduct regular energy walkabouts identifying and recording energy waste, maintenance issues and opportunities for no cost, low cost and investment measures.

Step 6: Implement energy saving measures

Produce a clear written plan in each area with priorities for action against identified measures, with timescales, costs, savings and those responsible for action.

Step 7: Engage employees and the public

Regularly raise staff awareness, gain support/ideas, train key people and provide regular feedback on progress toward targets. Communicate objectives and successes with the public.

Saving energy is easier than you think

“You don’t need lots of technical knowledge. If you do need technical advice it can be easily accessed. Energy management is essentially good management of a measureable resource and makes business sense. That is why the best run companies in the UK are the most energy efficient. It is in no-one’s interest to waste energy and everyone benefits including business performance.”

Tom Delay, Chief Executive, The Carbon Trust

£10,000 worth of savings to be made


  • Switch off lights that are not in use.
  • Make better use of natural light.
  • Replace filament and halogen lights with LED (Light Emitting Diode) bulbs or Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL).
  • Replace T12 fluorescent tubes with thinner, more efficient, T5 tubes.

FACT: On average, 40% of energy costs are related to lighting.

Heating and hot water

  • Switch off heating systems that are not in use.
  • Close doors when heating or air conditioning is on.
  • Save up to £8,000 a year by resetting heating controls on the boiler.
  • Save £300 a year by repairing door seals.
  • Save £1,000 a year by installing radiant heaters.

FACT: On average, 30% of dealership energy costs relate to heating.

Settings and controls

  • Save up to £4,000 a year by installing a Building Management System in workshop and bodyshop areas.
  • Use timers for car park lights and save up to £3,000 a year.
  • Save up to £5,000 a year by reducing the fan speed on air-handling units.
  • Save up to £6,000 a year by adjusting air-conditioning settings.

FACT: For every 1oC the A/C is set below 24oC, electricity consumption and costs increase by 11%.

Compressed air equipment

  • Save £100 a year by enabling time controls on the air compressor.
  • Save £1,000 a year by maintaining air compressors to prevent leaks.
  • Compressed air escaping from a 3mm hole can cost up to £700 a year in wasted electricity.

FACT: On average, 6% of energy costs relate to the air compressor.

Monitor and improve

  • Track energy use to see the difference improvements can make.
  • Energy consumption data is best taken from meters. If not available then use invoice data.
  • Analyse data in comparison to historical data to understand how your site is performing.
  • Act on findings, or contact SMMT for help by e-mailing energyefficiency@smmt.co.uk.

FACT: Reducing temperature settings by just 1oC can reduce consumption by 8%.

The above savings were found during the site visits undertaken in 2010/2011.

Next steps:

Download the full Dealer Energy Efficiency Guide or contact energyefficiency@smmt.co.uk for further advice on how to save energy and save money.

A summary version outlining the Guide’s key steps is also available here.

SMMT hosted a webinar regarding dealer energy efficiency. Click through to download the presentation given by John Mullholland of NIFES, the Guide author.

If you would like more information, you can download a web version of the Dealer Energy Efficiency presentation from the report launch.

Industry will continue to provide insight and advice on how dealers can improve their energy efficiency. Contact energyefficiency@smmt.co.uk to receive updated information or regularly check for updates on the SMMT dealer energy efficiency page.

SMMT has also developed some guidance and tips for saving water and how best to dispose of waste. These follow many of the same basic principles of how to become energy efficient and suggest adopting a seven step action plan for change.

Water use in dealerships

Water, like any other resource, costs money to use – and if you are on a meter, which most businesses are, then reducing usage will also reduce costs, as well as creating a more sustainable business.

Areas of water use:

  • Car wash – If you have this facility it is likely to be the main user of water on site.
  • Taps – a left on tap can use 1,000 litres of water an hour.
  • Toilets
  • Sinks
  • Kitchen

Just as with energy, the seven step action plan is directly relevant to water usage. Step 1 – appoint an appropriate person to drive water management, then follow the other steps, develop a water use policy, identify meters and invoices, monitor water use, conduct regular walkabouts to check water use, implement water saving measures and engage with staff and the public to raise awareness, get feedback and encourage action.

It is important to try to fix any leaks as soon as possible to reduce wastage. Hot water issues should be tackled first, as hot water can cost up to 10 times the cost of cold water.

No cost measures

  • Turn taps off when not in use.
  • Make staff aware of the cost of wasting water.

Low cost measures

  • Fit on/off nozzles or triggers to hoses
  • Collect and use rain-water where possible.
  • Fit self-closing taps
  • Fit aerators to taps, to restrict water flow
  • Use displacement devices in toilet cisterns
  • Fit dual-flush toilets (can retro-fit, or when updating system put new ones in).
  • Set urinals so they do not waste water, eg so they only flush with usage.

Higher cost measures

  • Use a water re-use system in the car wash.

Water contamination

Ensure hazardous waste does not leak and cause contamination to water supplies. There can be fines and penalties for water contamination. Keep containers sealed and ensure no leaks or spills. If accidents do happen clean them up as soon as possible and report them, if necessary. Fit interceptors onto drainage systems if dealing with trade effluent or if you have petrol/diesel refuelling system on site. Ensure those inceptors are regularly maintained.


Disposal of waste in dealerships

Waste can be split into the following categories:

  • Hazardous Waste (eg oil, oil filters, batteries, etc)
  • Recyclables (eg paper, cardboard, plastics)
  • Metals
  • General waste

In most cases you will have to pay for the removal of waste. Always try to minimise the amount of waste you produce, eg talk to suppliers about reducing packaging. Shop around for the best deal on waste removal.

In some cases you can get paid for waste materials, notably for metals. Speak to a waste contractor and they should be able to offer you advice and support. The contractor may provide a container to store metal in for collection.

Try to separate your waste as much as possible to ensure it is stored and disposed of as effectively as possible.

Avoid using open storage bins or skips. Not only do they discourage separation, but they can also be used by non-garage staff and filled with rainwater (if kept outside) – which would mean less space for waste, but also add weight and mess which may add to the cost of collection.

Hazardous waste

  • Waste oil
  • Oil filters
  • Oily rags
  • Oil fines (eg saw dust used to soak up oil spills)
  • Mixed fuels (eg petrol, diesel, etc)
  • Brake fluid
  • Anti-freeze
  • Car batteries and other smaller batteries
  • Tyres
  • Waste electrical and electronic equipment
  • Unused air bags
  • Oil brake pads
  • Fluorescent lights
  • Aerosols
  • Mobile air conditioning units

Ensure hazardous waste is correctly stored. Avoid leaks and spills and take appropriate action if accidents do happen.

Ensure hazardous waste is collected by licensed contractor, and keep appropriate records of contractors licence and permit numbers and amount of waste collected.

Ensure hazardous waste is not put in with general waste.

Just as with energy and water, the seven step action plan is directly relevant to disposing of waste properly. Step 1 – appoint an appropriate person to drive waste management, then follow the other steps, develop a waste disposal policy, monitor waste type and volume, implement waste minimisation, improved storage, separation and disposal cost saving measures and engage with staff to raise awareness, get feedback and encourage action on better waste management.