Car-makers and car buyers will have to double the rate at which they make and buy low carbon cars if the UK car industry is to meet the EU's planned industry-average 130g/km target by 2015.
New figures released today by car manufacturers' trade body the SMMT show that while the average CO2 output of new cars sold in the UK in the last ten years has dropped by 25g/km, the average will have to drop by 35g/km to hit the 130g/km target.
That will require a saving of 5g/km per year, just about double the reduction recorded between 2006 and 2007. But the SMMT is confident the target can be met as the car industry invests in cleaner models and the government overhauls the tax regime to force drivers to buy them.
Last year the EU pushed back its average CO2 target from 130g/km by 2012 by three years to 2015, partly because of intense lobbying by the car industry.
"We think 2015 is a more realistic target, because it gives us a fighting chance to get technology out there given the lead times in manufacturing and for buyers to adopt the new technology," says the SMMT.
The EU target will continue to change the face of motoring in the UK, with the balance of new cars in the UK likely to further concentrate around the C and D VED bandings.
The SMMT reports that nearly 1.38m, or 57 per cent of the new car market are now cars that average CO2 between 121 and 165g/km. Ten years ago green models made up just 23 per cent.
The shift to 'green' car taxation in the UK continues to swell the Government's coffers, too. Motorists are the number one tax contributor in Europe, says the SMMT. In the UK alone motorists contribute £45bn per year, the majority from fuel duty, which in 2006 was £23.4bn.