« go back

Newest SMMT data for average new car CO2 emissions shows industry likely to beat EU target for 2015 but work to do to meet tougher 2020 limit

Motor Industry Facts 2013 & SMMT New Car CO2 Report 2013 The 12th report


The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the trade body for the UK automative industry has published two reports of interest this month; a presentation of general facts and figures for the UK automotive sector and it's 12th annual report on New Car CO2 emissions.


Motor Industry Facts 2013

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Motor Industry Facts 2013, published (online but not yet in print) on Friday 1 March is a handy summary of UK auto industry statistics, from registration and production data to the latest on legislation and information on eco innovations. This includes summary of the industry's performance in terms of export and trade, the UK sector profile and developments in 2012 regarding new investments.  


The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) exists to support and promote the interests of the UK automotive industry, acting as the voice of the motor industry, promoting its position to government, stakeholders and the media, and representing more than 550 automotive companies.

Among its policy priorities for 2013, according to the report, the association will support the Automotive Council's agenda for maximising the UK benefit from the global shift to ultra-low carbon vehicles, while among its six priority areas for its campaigns it will pay attention to:

  • Delivery on the Automotive Council’s technology roadmaps and five strategic technologies.
  • (A) Strong and stable framework of ultra-low carbon incentives beyond 2015.

Fifteenth globally - fourth in Europe in terms of cars made

Putting the UK automative industry into a global context, in 2011, 1,463,999 vehicles were manufactured here (up by 5.1% on 2010) placing the nation 15th globally and fourth in Europe in terms of vehicles manufactured (2012 figures are promised for the print version). 

According to SMMT, the UK automotive sector generates more than £55 billion in annual turnover, delivering around £12 billion in net value-added to the economy. The automotive industry is claimed as the UK’s largest sector in terms of exports by value, generating £27 billion of revenue for the country in 2011, and the sector exports to over 100 markets worldwide and accounts for around 11% of total UK exports.


Alternatively-Fuelled Vehicles

While boasting of 2,044,609 total new car registrations in the UK, the report shows that registrations of Alternatively-Fuelled Vehicles (AFVs) - i.e. any vehicle not powered solely by a petrol or diesel engine - form a tiny fraction of the total (AFVs), albeit a 1.4% share of the market, after a 9.4% rise in volumes in 2012. So, while its possible to pick out data points showing large proportional growth (see chart below), the size of growth isn't very significant compared to general car buying trends, such as the increase in registrations of 4-by-4s.


Environmental performance

The report publicises industry efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of vehicles, not just in use, but throughout their lifecycle. UK vehicle manufacturers have, SMMT asserts, made "great strides in reducing the environmental impact of their UK facilities, making more efficient use of natural resources".

For instance it claims that UK manufacturers have reduced energy consumption in manufacturing each vehicle by 14% in 2011 compared to 2010.

CO2 emissions through the vehicle life cycle is typically, the report states, in the proportion: Production 10%, Recycling 5% and Usage 85%.


Ultra-low carbon innovation and the future of UK automotive

SMMT make the claim that "the UK automotive is fast becoming a centre for low carbon vehicle research, development, design and manufacture and is well placed to lead the transition to a low carbon economy. Vehicle manufacturers are investing heavily in R&D to develop innovative technologies that improve fuel efficiency, lower emissions and reduce the overall environmental impact of their products."

A "technology roadmap" for cars and commercial and off-highway vehicles has been agreed to provide a strategic outlook for the industry, recognising the long-term challenges associated with the transition to ultra-low carbon vehicle."

The Automotive Council has identified five strategic technology priorites with potential for a significant return on investmen: energy storage and management, electric motors and power electronics, internal combustion engines, lightweight vehicle and powertrain structures, and intelligent mobility.


Latest new car CO2 emission averages

The latest SMMT figures are provided for new car CO2 emissions, previewing the subsequently published New Car CO2 emissions report (see below) of 14 March 2013. The crucial overall avergae CO2 emissions for new cars fell to a new low of 133.1g/km in all 2012 production. 


SMMT New Car CO2 Report 2013 - The 12th Report

The SMMT's 12th report on new car emissions features data (supplied by its members) up to and including the final quarter of 2012 - whereas the most recent official DfT data (sourced from DVLA) released on January 14 refers to data up to and including the third quarter of last year. 

Although, unlike DVLA, SMMT has not released the actual data, instead selected highlights, there's plenty of information of interest, not least the over-egged headline of the press release "New cars over 25% more fuel efficient than in 2000".

The important omission there being the important - but always non-real modifier - on average.

The yearly average UK new car CO2 emissions improved by 3.6% (compared to 2011) to 133.1g/km of CO2, which is 26.5% lower than the equivalent for new cars in 2000.

The SMMT report states the trend continues downwards, with the latest quarter average (Q4 2012) being 131.9g/km, down by 3.4% on the same quarter a year before. Probably just coincidentally, that is the same emissions figure as DVLA's reported third quarter 2012 reported average.

SMMT say their CO2 data is collated by SMMT’s Motor Vehicle Registration Information System (MVRIS) and links the vehicles’ CO2 levels to the MVRIS new car registration database to create sales weighted figures. The CO2 data is sourced from manufacturers’ own figures (as supplied on the vehicle’s first registration document). There has been claims of cheating by manufacturers in these self-declared tests, but the SMMT say their members figures are checked with type approval data from the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) to ensure accuracy.


EU 2015 target may be ahead of schedule but 2020 target not a given

Under the European Union legislation adopted in 2009 setting mandatory emission reduction targets, the fleet average to be achieved by all new cars is 130 grams of CO2 per kilometre (g/km) by 2015 - with the target phased in from 2012 - and 95g/km by 2020. The regulation is currently undergoing amendment in order to implement the 2020 target.

The 2015 and 2020 targets represent reductions of 18% and 40% respectively compared with the 2007 fleet average of 158.7g/km. 

Extropolating speculatively to the future, a continuation of the current new car CO2 emission trends suggest that the 2015 target may be reached around the end of the second quarter of this year - but, very speculatively, not necessarily be ahead of schedule for the 2020 target of 95g/km.

This target, as suggested in a provided table, requires a steady 4.1% decline, requiring continued increase in development and change in consumer behaviour for it to be acheived compared to the current 3.6% year-on-year fall.


Below a bar graph - that in an effort to display the positive trend overcooks it rather naughtily by snipping off the bottom 100g/km of each bar - SMMT claim, "The recent rate of improvement follows across the board reductions from all sales types, segments and fuel types. This reflects manufacturers realising the benefits of long-term investment in lower CO2 emitting technologies, in part designed to meet the EU New Car CO2 Regulation which came into effect in 2012. 



Factors in emissions improvement: increased choice, efficiency gains, fuel cost pressures, buying behaviour, mitigated by demand for exective class vehicles and ageing parc

According to the report, the last five years have seen a dramatic change in the buying behaviour of UK motorists and consequently on the rate of CO2 emission reduction, "Since recession struck the UK in 2008, new car buyers have prioritised fuel efficiency more than ever and vehicle manufacturers have redoubled efforts to enhance efficiency and reduce emissions across all vehicle types."

"Achieving 133.1g/km CO2 in 2012 is testament to vehicle manufacturer R&D and to motorists who have embraced new technologies like never before. In the past five years alone the proportion of alternatively-fuelled vehicles registered has doubled. The industry has also cut 31.8g/km CO2 off the average car’s emissions, a 20% improvement, and we’ve seen the share of sub-130g/km CO2 cars go from just 10.6% of new cars in 2007 to more than 55% in 2012.

SMMT report that manufacturers have increased the choice to consumers of lower CO2 emitting vehicles, across all vehicle types, and this has contributed to record shares of the market in low CO2 vehicles. "For example, 55% of the UK market in 2012 met the EU’s 2012-2015 target of 130g/km, up from 10.6% in 2007."

"Efficiency and lower running costs have also become more important to consumers, following the recession, rise in fuel prices and changes to CO2 based motoring taxes, such as the introduction of the first year Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) rate. Manufacturers have competed to capitalise on this."

"The market has seen a shift to diesels, which typically emit 10-20% less CO2 than their petrol equivalents. Diesels took a record 50.8% share of the market in 2012. The introduction of more alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) helped these vehicle types record a 1.4% share of the market, after a 9.4% rise in volumes in 2012. Registrations of Mini and Supermini segments also rose in 2012, but so did demand for the Dual Purpose and Executive class vehicles, which curbed some of the progress on CO2 reductions."

"A new car emits around one fifth less CO2 than the average car in use in the UK. The shift in composition of the vehicle parc to new, more efficient vehicles has contributed to total CO2 emissions from all cars in use having fallen by 14% between 2000 and 2011. However, the decline in overall new car registrations since the recession has slowed the renewal rate of vehicles in the parc."


Changes needed to acheive EU 2020 emissions targets

The report says that manufacturers must achieve further reductions in their own specific performance to meet the impending EU New Car CO2 Regulation.

"By 2020 new cars in the EU must average a lower figure of 95g/km of CO2. To achieve this target, further gains in vehicle efficiency will be needed, through progress of traditional internal combustion engined (ICE) vehicles and the introduction of more alternative fuelled vehicles - which manufacturers are investing in."

It also says it will also be necessary to encourage consumers to adjust their vehicle choices towards even lower emitting vehicles, which may become even more of challenge if economic growth picks up and (it) curbs consumer appetite for low-emitting vehicles. In the SMMT's view, encouraging behavioural change will require support from other stakeholders, notably government and fuel suppliers.

However, SMMT only appear to wish to push the point so far, as it thinks Government should look to ensure that both industrial and environmental ambitions can be met and the UK automotive sector can grow whilst reducing CO2 and contributing to economic growth, as "the sector also faces the challenges of delivering improvements in air quality, increased focus on life-cycle analysis, revisions to the fuel efficiency CO2 test procedure and meeting the requirements of a global market".

No comments yet. Be the first.