SMMT reveals average new car CO2 reductions for the 2006 market

24 January 2007 #SMMT News

SMMT today reveals headline CO2 figures for the 2006 new car market. The average new car sold last year emitted 167.2 g/km. That was an improvement of 1.3 per cent on 2005 figures and 11.9 per cent down on average CO2 for the 1997 market.

A more detailed report will be published in the Spring. However, SMMT’s data team has split the top-line figure into private and fleet sales, listed in the table below.






All new cars

167.2 g/km

169.4 g/km

-1.3 %

189.8 g/km

-11.9 %

Average 2006

Average 2005


Average 2001


Private cars

168.7 g/km

172.3 g/km

-2.1 %

176.4 g/km

-4.4 %

Fleet cars

166.0 g/km

167.1 g/km

-0.6 %

178.8 g/km

-7.1 %

While progress continues to be made in the UK – and across Europe where the industry is moving towards 2008 CO2 reduction targets1 – SMMT believes more can be done to drive the market for cleaner vehicles.

‘Market transformation is not just about bringing new technology to the showroom’, explained SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan. ‘It’s about encouraging consumers to think carefully about their choice of vehicle, providing incentives where needed and ensuring alternative fuels are widely available and competitively priced.

‘Take E85 bioethanol for example. Mainstream bioethanol cars are on the market now, yet there are only a dozen or so filling stations across the UK. Plus, it’s no cheaper at the pump for drivers. That makes no sense. We need to work together in partnership with government, fuel companies and customers to address this.’

Other barriers to progress include things like the three per cent company car tax surcharge for new diesel cars. SMMT calls for an immediate end to this disincentive since diesel cars emit up to 30 per cent less CO2 than petrol equivalents.

Reductions in the fleet sector slowed to just 0.6 per cent last year and the ‘diesel disincentive’ is one of the reasons why the UK still lags behind the rest of Europe on diesel market penetration (38.3 per cent v 50.6 per cent in 2006).

Incentives are also needed to boost sales of the lowest carbon cars. The Low Carbon Car Fund was shelved following the collapse of its predecessor – Powershift grants. Government said that there was no evidence that grants drive demand for cleaner cars. However, the decline in the fledgling LPG market following Powershift’s demise shows this is not the case. From growth to 3,185 units back in 2003, the market for new LPG cars collapsed to just 39 new cars last year.

On better consumer information, the motor industry can take credit for last year’s CO2 reduction in the private sector (2.1 per cent following introduction of its colour-coded CO2 label2.

This has been displayed in showrooms since September 2005, giving buyers more information at the point of sale, allowing simple car-by-car comparisons.

It also includes annual running cost information, making a clear association between lower costs and cleaner motoring. SMMT believes this is crucial since the economic case for lower carbon cars is more persuasive to buyers than a simple appeal to go green.

Macgowan concluded, ‘This thing we call an integrated approach is not about empty words; we are calling for practical measures, based on the principle that working together will deliver the greatest benefits for the environment, without crippling the European car industry with unrealistic targets and disproportionate costs. This approach was endorsed by the European CARS21 group3 last year and we in the UK fully support it.’

* * * *


1. The motor industry trade association, ACEA, on behalf of the European car manufacturers, negotiated a Voluntary Agreement with the Commission (DG ENVironment) in 1998. The industry voluntarily agreed to reduce CO2 emissions from new cars to an average of 140 g/km. The agreement set two CO2 targets over its 13-year life. The first, met in 2003, was to achieve a 165-170 g/km reduction.

The next major target was to achieve a new car fleet average of 140 g/km in 2008. Progress towards this target was to be reviewed by a joint monitoring committee set up by the industry and the Commission.

The latest report for 2004 shows the carmakers have achieved 163 g/km (combined JAMA, KAMA and ACEA figure), a reduction of 12.4% from 1995. Analysis of the sales of new cars for the year showed 29.6% of the cars emitted less than 140 g/km, 8% less than 120 g/km and that cars emitting over 160 g/km had dropped from 80.8% in 1995 to 36.4% in 2004.

The industry remains committed to this tough target, and through ACEA, supports the CARS21 integrated approach to deliver further CO2 reductions from road transport.

2. The colour-coded label was introduced as a voluntary initiative by the UK car industry in association with the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP). Launched in July 2005, the label now features across brands in UK showrooms. The colour-coded ‘green to red’ banding is similar in format to energy efficiency labels used for white goods, making it instantly recognisable to car buyers. Information about annual running costs through fuel and VED mean that car-by-car comparisons on CO2 and economy are straightforward.

3. The high-level CARS21 (Competitive Automotive Regulatory System for the 21st Century) report was published in October 2005. Set up by Commission vice-president Günter Verheugen, the group published recommendations including the adoption of an integrated approach on CO2 reduction and road safety improvements.

The group reported that on CO2 reductions, stakeholders like vehicle makers, infrastructure providers, public authorities, oil industry and drivers could bring larger reductions in CO2 emissions at dramatically lower societal costs compared to an approach that focuses on vehicle technology alone.

Membership of the high-level CARS21 group included representatives from the automobile industry, European Commissioners, national government representatives (UK – Margaret Beckett, secretary of state for Environment Food and Rural Affairs), trade unions, NGOs and vehicle users.

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