UK CO2 emissions fall for 17th consecutive year

Published Date: 16th May 2015

A record two thirds of new car buyers enjoy £0 first year tax on their new cars

  • UK average new car CO2 emissions fall to all-time low of 124.6g/km, beating EU target by 4.2%.
  • Britain surges ahead in Europe, selling more plug-in cars than any other country.
  • Record 68.6% of car buyers now paying zero first year tax, putting current regime under scrutiny.

Car Cloud

The annual SMMT New Car CO2 Report 2015 reveals that carbon tailpipe emissions have fallen for the 17th consecutive year to an all-time low. In 2014, new cars averaged just 124.6g/km, beating last year’s record average by 2.9% and 2007 levels by almost a quarter (24%).

The shift to more efficient diesel and petrol engines has been critical to this success, while significant growth of the alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFV) market has also contributed. Sales of plug-in vehicles increased fourfold to 14,498 in 2014 and, for the first time, the UK surged ahead in Europe, registering more new plug-ins than any other country. By the end of the year, there were 52,000 AFVs, including hybrids, plug-ins and range extenders, on the road – a 58.1% increase on 2013.


With a strict new EU-wide CO2 target of 95g/km by 2020, much is at stake, and the CEBR report recommends a moderate and fair approach to reform to avoid undermining future uptake of the newest, cleanest cars. Demand for these vehicles must be maintained, alongside support for the development of the next generation of low carbon technology. SMMT is calling on the next government to work closely with industry when it reviews the motoring taxation regimes, to ensure balance, fairness and stability in the market, and to reflect industrial strategy ambitions.


Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, announced, “The UK automotive sector has made enormous strides in cutting emissions across the board and should be proud of its achievements. However, there is a long way to go, and meeting ambitious targets in 2020 will require ongoing support and investment. Striking the delicate balance between influencing buying behaviour, encouraging investment and maintaining critical tax income will be a big challenge. SMMT is committed to working with the next government to make the changes now that will help the industry meet the even greater cuts in CO2 demanded in the future.”