SMMT report shows record year for carbon reduction

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The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)'s 22nd Sustainability Report reveals an 11.8 per cent reduction in fleet average carbon emissions in a single year.

Released yesterday, the report shows the impact of the pandemic on the automotive sector in the last year, with its overall turnover down by 24.6 per cent. Despite the stalling in economic progress, it reveals some promising findings regarding the sector’s sustainability efforts.

Electric vehicles accounted for more than one in ten registrations in 2020, with a 90 per cent increase in the number of plug-in hybrid vehicles alone. 

UK production of battery electric (BEV), plug-in-hybrid (PHEV) and hybrid vehicles (HEV) rose to 18.8 per cent of all cars made up last year, up from 14.8 per cent in 2019, with BEVs rising to a 4.5 per cent share up from 3.4 per cent.

The SMMT found that the vehicles are also being made more sustainably, with 14.2 per cent less energy and 36.8 per cent less water used on average per vehicle since 2000. Total combined waste to landfill was also down 98.7 per cent and CO2 equivalents per vehicle produced fell 36.5 per cent. 

However, efficiency losses caused by reduced production throughout the pandemic resulted in a year-on-year increase in energy, waste to landfill and water usage per vehicle of 11.2 per cent, 19.9 per cent and 8.3 per cent respectively.

UK auto industry calls for clear zero emission HGV plan

Net zero commitments made by car manufacturers should result in an expected 300 plug-in models for buyers to choose from by 2025, more than doubling the current availability, the SMMT said. 

However, it pointed out that fast progress will need to be made in other areas, most notably in the provision of charging infrastructure. It recommends that ambitious mandated targets should be set for the charging industry that match the automotive sector’s increasing needs.

“The impact of the pandemic on a sector such as automotive, one which depends on global supply lines, strong consumer demand and a highly skilled workforce, was always going to be severe,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive. 

“As the latest Sustainability Report shows, economic and market growth stalled with many factorys shuttered and retail closed. Yet the pandemic also proved the importance of the sector as it turned its capabilities to PPE and ventilator manufacture and assured the nation’s mobility through the continued service and repair of vehicles.”

Additional recommendations made by the SMMT following the report’s findings include further investment into UK skills and training to underpin the transition to green jobs, support of sustainable automotive supply chains and sub-sectors and encouragement of customers to make zero emission their first choice.