The automotive industry is not taking improved fuel efficiency seriously enough, according to the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution.
In a report published last week the commission said ‘technological innovation will increasingly need to be directed at the challenge of reducing carbon dioxide emissions from road vehicles’ and particulates and nitrogen oxides from diesel vehicles.
‘We do not consider the motor industry is giving sufficient priority to meeting these challenges,’ it said.
Many production-ready technical options for reducing consumption ‘remain unexploited’, it said.
A small reduction in average fuel consumption of new petrol cars was being offset by the addition of safety features and equipment such as electric windows and air conditioning which added to the weight and auxiliary energy needs of cars.
The commission called on the industry to ‘begin to move now towards radically different technologies which are cleaner and much more efficient’ such as hybrid propulsion and fuel cells in preference to tailpipe devices such as catalytic converters.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said that commercial vehicles, buses and coaches fitted with engines designed to meet the latest European standards ‘pollute up to 50% less than their immediate predecessors. The use of increasingly available low sulphur fuel will drive down further levels of particulate emissions.’
Advances in diesel engine technology and the introduction of exhaust particulate traps would ‘keep this momentum going’. It added: ‘Hybrid vehicles are already run in the UK.’