SMMT sees drop in new car CO2 emissions

Average new car CO2 emissions fell by their biggest ever margin last year, according to the annual New Car CO2 Report released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

According to the New Car CO2 Report, the average new car sold in the UK in 2009 emitted 149.5g/km of CO2, down 5.4 per cent on the 2008 figure and 21.2 per cent better than the 1997 base level. The rate of reduction was the best on record — three times the average rate achieved since data was first measured in 1997.

Reductions in average emissions were made across all model segments with MPVs down 28.6 per cent and 4x4s down 27.4 per cent, making the biggest improvement against their 1997 base levels. Minis and specialist sports cars made the biggest reduction over the past year, falling 6.7 per cent and 6.3 per cent respectively on 2008 figures.

2009 saw the 12th successive annual drop in average new car CO2 emissions, but the rate of decline was increased by the recession and subsequent scrappage incentive scheme steering buyers towards more fuel-efficient models. The average car bought under the scheme is claimed to have emitted 133.3g/km — 26.8 per cent less CO2 than the average scrapped car.

In total, 27.6 per cent of the cars registered in the UK in 2009 emitted less than 130g/km, the target set in the European CO2 regulation for 2015. In addition, showing the influence of the CO2-based road tax system, Band E (131-140g/km) proved the most popular with new car buyers, compared with Band H (166-175g/km) in 1997.

Commenting on the report, Paul Everitt, chief executive at the SMMT, said: ‘Vehicle manufacturers have invested heavily in both improving conventional technologies and bringing advanced systems to market that reduce the environmental impact of new vehicles.

’While scrappage incentives made a positive contribution to fleet renewal in 2009, there is a risk that over the next few years, motorists may be deterred from investing in the latest technology. Developing a long-term and consistent approach to vehicle taxation and environmental incentives will be important in maintaining the current rate of improvement.’

The adoption of the new car CO2 regulation in December 2009 set a phase-in target for vehicle manufacturers to ensure their average fleet emissions do not exceed 130g/km by 2015.

In separate news, the SMMT has issued its annual pre-Budget submission, urging the chancellor to implement measures to support long-term investment, employment and technological development in the UK motor industry.

Recommended measures include:

  • Nurturing recovery in the car and commercial vehicle markets.
  • Increasing the Annual Investment Allowance for businesses to £500,000 to boost spending on vans, trucks, construction equipment, buses and coaches.
  • Retaining and further enhancing the first-year writing-down allowance to 60 per cent to incentivise business and fleet investment in the van and truck markets.
  • Removing or delaying the planned introduction of a first-year rate of tax (VED) on new cars from April 2010.
  • Removing the three per cent diesel car penalty in the company car benefit-in-kind (BIK) calculation.
  • Deferring the third stage of increases to DVLA first-vehicle registration fees.
  • Removing the £80,000 cap on company cars that adversely impacts UK-built premium car makers.

Supporting future investment, growth and development:

  • Delivering clarity and consistency across all vehicle tax and incentive programmes, in supporting the delivery of ultra-low carbon vehicles.
  • Reconsidering the removal of the 20 pence per litre incentive for biofuels due to end in April 2010 to sustain and develop the technology-neutral approach to ultra-low carbon vehicles.
  • Greater flexibility in the Automotive Assistance Programme and more effective delivery of wider support programmes to ease access to finance and credit.