Cars get greener

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has announced the largest ever reduction in the environmental impact of vehicles produced by the car manufacturing industry.

According to its ninth annual sustainability report, car manufacturers have reduced CO2 emissions by 3.8 per cent over the first nine months of this year and by 14 per cent in the last year.

The average new car now emits only 158.6g/km, down from 164.9g/km at the end of 2007.

The report also shows that the energy needed to produce each vehicle is down by 12 per cent, water use is down 9 per cent and waste to landfill is down 25 per cent compared to figures in 2006.

The results indicate the industry’s commitment to keep delivering products that are environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient.

However, concerns remain over changes to car taxation, economic uncertainty and falling new car registrations which may slow down any further improvements by car manufacturers and place older, more polluting cars, on the roads.

The report also revealed that the total number of employees in the industry fell by 13.2 per cent in 2007 due to the closure of Peugeot’s Ryton plant.

These figures have increased calls for government action to support the jobs dependent on the automotive industry and its £51bn contribution to the economy.

Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘The automotive industry is a UK success generating 840,000 jobs across the sector.

‘We are home to global brands providing high-quality and high-value employment across the life of vehicles and powertrain.

‘It is very appropriate that today we do address the sustainability of the automotive industry, and perhaps remind ourselves that economic and social impacts are as important as environmental considerations.’