28 April 2005

The government is winning its war against CO2. The amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the average new UK car dropped by 9.3 per cent between 1997 and 2003. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ third emissions review, the average new car sold in 2003 coughed out 172.1g/km of CO2, against 189.8g/km in 1997.

The survey reflects the increasing trend for drivers to choose smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, the growing popularity of diesel engines but, most significantly, the effect of the government’s changes in car tax legislation.

The current VED road tax scheme, which came into force in March 2001, is based not on engine size but carbon dioxide emissions, and company car taxation policy, introduced a year later, incentivises company car drivers to choose lower-emissions vehicles.

The survey also shows a massive shift away from the biggest-emitting vehicles, by both drivers and manufacturers. In 1997, 45.1 per cent of new cars registered qualified for highest taxation band – 185g/km and above; the year before last it was only 26.8 per cent.

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