Average new car carbon dioxide emissions fell by 4.5% in the third quarter of this year, the biggest drop on record.
The average is now 156.6g/km, which is 7.4 g/km less than a year ago.
If the rate of decline continues, average CO2 emissions will fall below 130g/km by 2012.
Jay Nagley, www.cleangreencars.co.uk publisher, said: “The car industry says that the EU emission target of 130 g/km of CO2 cannot be met by 2012, but today’s figures suggest otherwise.
“With buyers increasingly turning to fuel-efficient smaller models and the economic clouds getting ever darker, consumers may force the car industry to meet the target, rendering the argument with the EU irrelevant.”
The 4.5% drop in new car CO2 comes after a 21.2% drop in September sales.
However, while the market for higher-emitting 4x4s and luxury cars fell 40.1 and 42.8% respectively, small city cars bucked the downward trend.
Sales of these fuel-efficient models actually rose by 17% last month.