Almost all of the top 25 car manufacturer brands reduced their average carbon dioxide output in the first half of 2009 compared to the same period last year.
Statistics from JATO Dynamics’ latest report there was an average of a 6.2g/km drop in CO2 emissions across the top 25 manufacturers.
Fiat remains the best performing volume brand with an average of 129.1g/km CO2 across its range.
David Di Girolamo, head of JATO Consult, said: “Our analysis shows how the CO2 output of new cars has dropped significantly this year, with manufacturers’ own efforts in this area boosted by scrappage incentives and economic pressures, which have in turn persuaded customers to buy smaller, more efficient – and less polluting – new cars.”
Smart, Fiat and Mini are already under the 130g/km CO2 average that is required by EU legislation by 2015.
However, these brands did not make the outright biggest improvement of all mainstream marques over the past year – that accolade belongs to Alfa Romeo, whose average new car CO2 output fell by 19.9g/ km in comparison to 2008.
Sales volume is a significant factor when assessing CO2 performance and JATO has created a league table of improvements amongst the top 25 brands by volume.
When isolating the top 25 volume brands, the top spot is taken by Chevrolet, whose diesel Cruze model a 119g/km Matiz helped its new car sales to a 15.2 g/km average CO2 improvement.
Second in the improvement stakes was Audi, whose 2.0-litre TDi engine helped it to an average of 163 g/km. The German marque is likely to benefit further in H2 2009 sales, from its recently announced, 109 g/km 1.6-litre TDi A3 model and stop-start system.
Toyota, Suzuki, Hyundai and Mazda also recorded double-digit improvements.
Ford was best of the biggest European volume sellers, improving average CO2 by 8g/km as its ECOnetic range and in particular, its new 98g/km Fiesta ECOnetic, proved popular with customers across Europe.
Di Girolamo said: “There are some surprises when you look at the order of CO2 reductions by brand. However, Fiat is still the best performer for average CO2 output by brand.”
To download the full table of top 25 volume manufacturers by CO2 performance click here.
Supercars lead CO2 reduction race
While not traditionally associated with their environmental credentials, supercar makers are proving just as committed and effective as volume brands in reducing their average CO2 performance, according to JATO.
JATO analysis shows Ferrari leads the CO2 volume reduction race, with a 40.4 g/km improvement in CO2 output of new cars sold in H1 2009, compared to the same period in 2008.
This is the greatest volume reduction of any brand on sale in Europe and represents a 9.5% improvement, which matches that of the best performing volume brand of H1 2009, Chevrolet.
Di Girolamo said: “Of course, supercars are starting from a high base and have more scope to reduce emissions than mainstream cars, but the speed with which they are improving their CO2 performance should be credited.
“Sales volumes might be on a smaller scale, but those manufacturers we studied sell close to 100,000 cars combined each year, and we know well that the days of supercar makers being excluded from the environmental debate are over.”
CO2 improvements by country
Germany has recorded an 11.3 g/km average improvement in new car CO2 output, across its H1 2009 sales of 2,059,405.
Of the other major European markets, the UK recorded an average 8.4 g/km improvement, on its half year sales of 924,955. Italy improved overall by 6.5 g/km and France by 5.7 g/km.
However, the effect of volume is once again apparent, with the greatest improvement in the CO2 output of new cars sold in H1 2009 recorded in the Republic of Ireland, which posted a 17.1 g/km reduction.
British motorists were placed at sixteenth place in a league table of who buys the most polluting models in Europe, according to a study carried out on behalf of the Environmental Transport Association.
Portugal has the cleanest motorists with an average CO2 rating of 138g/km in comparison to Britain's 158g/km of CO2. Latvia has the most polluting drivers with an average of 181g/km of CO2.
Ranking 2008. Country/Average CO2 2008(g/km)/AverageCO2 2007/Rank 2007
1. Portugal / 138 / 144 / 1
2. France / 140 / 149 / 4
3. Italy / 145 / 147 / 2
4. Denmark / 146 / 160 / 12
5. Malta / 147 / 148 / 3
6. Belgium / 148 / 153 / 5
7. Spain / 148 / 153 / 6
8. Poland / 153 / 154 / 7
9. Hungary / 153 / 155 / 10
10. Czech Republic / 154 / 154 / 8
11. Slovenia / 156 / 156 / 11
12. Romania / 156 / 155 / 9
13. Ireland / 157 / 162 / 13
14. Netherlands / 158 / 165 / 15
15. Austria / 158 / 163 / 16
16. Great Britain / 158 / 165 / 16
17. Luxembourg / 160 / 166 / 18
18. Greece / 161 / 165 / 17
19. Finland / 163 / 165 / 22
20. Germany / 165 / 169 / 19
21. Cyprus / 166 / 170 / 20
22. Lithuania / 170 / 177 / 21
23. Sweden / 174 / 181 / 23
24. Estonia / 177 / 182 / 24
25. Latvia / 181 / 183
Director at the Environmental Transport Association (ETA), Andrew Davis, said: "Car makers can build green cars, but they need us to buy them. The report found that strict new emissions laws are having a strong effect on the availability of cleaner cars, but wealth, motoring taxes, fuel prices and consumer attitudes, which vary wildly from country to country across Europe, have much more of an effect on how clean a car is chosen.
"There was a fuss in Britain when road tax increased for the most-polluting cars, but we are lax by European standards – we need a more sophisticated carrot and stick approach to encouraging people to drive lighter cars if we want to do better in next year's league table."