European new-car market continues low-carbon trend

Almost 60 per cent of European new cars now have emissions at or below the 140g/km CO2 level.

In data released to coincide with the 2010 Paris Motor Show, automotive intelligence provider JATO Dynamics says the market share of low emission cars with up to 120g/km CO2 has grown by 5 per cent. In particular, the market share of the sub-100g/km emissions band is also increasing, as more mainstream models, such as Ford Focus ECOnetic and Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion, achieve this level.

Ford is introducing a Modeo ECOnetic model in Paris, with average CO2 emissions of 115g/km. This is achieved in part by use of an automatic start-stop system that turns off the engine when the vehicle is stationary, restarting it automatically when the driver presses the accelerator or clutch pedal.

Manufacturers continue to drive new technology into their cars, with more efficient petrol engines, such as Ford's ECOboost or Fiat's Multiair, accelerating the progress already delivered by high-efficiency diesel engines, to further reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Top of the list for low-CO2 countries is Portugal, with an average new-car CO2 figure of 129.3g/km, ahead of both France and Italy, which are known for favouring small diesel cars. The greatest improvement in national average CO2 figures for H1 2010 were shown by Greece (-12.5g/km) and Ireland (-10.2g/km), but for very different reasons.

Ireland's CO2-based vehicle taxation system has generated a significant shift in buyer behaviour, towards smaller, more efficient cars. Greek car buyers have been particularly hit hard by the recent recession, with simple economics reducing demand for larger cars, particularly SUVs.

"We have seen a significant reduction in average, volume-weighted CO2 output in Europe – triggered by a perfect combination of manufacturer effort, macro-economic conditions driving demand for greater efficiencies and taxation schemes to shift buyer behaviour," commented David Di Girolamo, Head of JATO Consult. "The litmus test will be to see if this pace of change continues as consumer confidence returns."

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