The motor industry is congratulating itself on setting a trend towards greener cars following a new report showing the number of environment-friendly vehicles more than doubled their market share last year.
More and more motorists are either buying outright or taking out car loans for Vehicle Excise Duty (VED)-free, sub-100g/km CO2 models, with their market share jumping to 8.2%, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.
Its report indicates a growing trend towards low emissions and maximum fuel efficiency, reflected in the number of cars registered with less than 130g/km of CO2 emissions.
This is Europe's set target average emission level limit for manufacturers to reach by 2015. More than half the market (55.4%) matched this or improved on it last year.
Matthew Croucher, author of SMMT's report, said the motor industry can be "proud" of the progress it has made in reducing CO2 emissions and improving fuel efficiency by more than a quarter since 2000.
Research into discharges from all new cars UK-registered found a continued trend in falling CO2 and improving fuel efficiency.
Emissions in 2012 improved 3.6% year-on-year to 133.1g/km CO2, down more than 26% since 2000.
Car makers have honed efforts on providing low carbon choices for drivers buying across vehicles of all kinds.
Average emissions across all segments (car sizes), dropped almost 20% over the past five years, with larger vehicles making the biggest gains. Executive cars cut CO2 by a quarter, while Specialist Sports and Dual Purpose vehicles improved 24.7% and 23.1% respectively.
Achieving record market shares, diesel and alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) continued their popularity growth, taking 50.8% and 1.4% of the 2012 market respectively.
Petrol-electric hybrids were responsible for 85% of all AFV volumes last year with an average CO2 output of 98.7g/km, over a quarter below the UK average. Electric and Plug-In vehicle registrations leapt 111.8% in 2012 to 2,237 units, helped by the introduction of new models and the Plug-In Car Grant.
UK automotive is a global leader for low carbon research and development, productivity and quality, exporting its products around the world.
Mr Croucher said the industry recognises its responsibilities and the industrial opportunities from the switch to ultra-low carbon vehicles.
He said future environmental and economic success will be determined by sustained investment in new technology, research and development, infrastructure and consumer incentives.
The EU has set the motoring industry a target of 95g/km CO2 by 2020.
Electric vehicles are currently exempt from road tax in the UK.
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