UK passes EU new car CO2 emissions landmark

13 March 2014 #SMMT News


  • The average new car in the UK emits 128.3g/km CO2 – 3.6% less than last year and almost 30% better than in 2000.
  • Figure marks UK’s achievement of pan-European 130g/km target for 2015 and continues the drive towards the 2020 target of 95g/km.
  • Trend driven by increased fuel efficiency of new cars, helped by consumer movement towards more economical cars.
  • Reduction in emissions from new cars has helped lower total CO2 emissions from all the cars on the road by more than 15% over the last decade.
  • Government’s Automotive Sector Strategy aims to develop UK automotive into a world leader in low-carbon technology.

Infographic 1 FINAl final


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.

Vehicle makers have invested heavily to develop, deliver and market lower CO2-emitting cars, but progress has been supported by consumer buying behaviour, too. Through switching to more fuel-efficient vehicles in every class, the CO2 figure has tumbled. Registrations of cars in the Mini segment almost doubled against 2012, while the Supermini segment also showed solid growth. A new car is 20% more efficient than the average car in use, so consumers will notice a real difference when replacing their old car.

Consumers also have a burgeoning choice when it comes to alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs), with a threefold increase in the number of plug-in models on the market in the last three years alone. Registrations of AFVs grew 17.6% to 32,731 in 2013, with 7.7% accounted for by pure-electric vehicles. Government and industry’s new Go Ultra Low campaign (, which aims to raise awareness of the benefits of driving ultra-low emission vehicles (those producing less than 75g/km CO2), is set to boost these figures through this year.

The UK is a vibrant centre for automotive R&D, and aims to strengthen this position through the joint government-industry Automotive Sector Strategy launched last year. A main focus of the Strategy is the Advanced Propulsion Centre, which will channel over £1 billion investment into the development of UK automotive into a world leader in the development of low-carbon technologies.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “The UK automotive industry should be proud of the progress it has made in improving the environmental impact of its vehicles. Average new car CO2 emissions are almost 30% lower than in 2000, boosted by increasing uptake of the most efficient engine technologies, alternatively-fuelled vehicles and the new Go Ultra Low campaign.

“Through the Automotive Sector Strategy, it has been hugely encouraging to see government’s determination to ensure the UK is at the forefront of research, development and introduction of low carbon vehicles.”

The full SMMT New Car CO2 Report 2014 is free to download from

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