Save money in 2012 – buy a Fiat

At least, that is the advice from the European Commission, whose first ever report on CO2 emissions from new cars in Europe shows Fiat is one of only three manufacturers which has met 2015 targets for building green cars.

Fiat, whose low-cost cars include the Fiat 500 city car and the forthcoming Fiat Panda, boasts the lowest average CO2 emissions levels in Europe, according to the latest data.

In the UK, cars with CO2 emissions underneath 100g/km are eligible for exemption from Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) and are free to travel in London without paying the congestion charge.

They also tend to have improved fuel economy over those cars with CO2 emissions higher than 100g/km.

The Fiat 500 is a leader in terms of CO2 emissions and is one of few cars to offer a sub-100g/km petrol and diesel option.

The new Fiat Panda will also offer road tax-free engines when it arrives in 2012, helping Fiat cars fall under EU targets of sub-130g/km average emissions across the entire range.

The average new car in Europe emits 140g/km of CO2 emissions, according to the European Commission, meaning manufacturers will be given hefty fines for every car sold from 2015.

However, CO2 emissions across Europe have fallen by 23 per cent since 2000 and manufacturers such as Citroen, Peugeot, Renault and Vauxhall are all close to meeting targets before the deadline.

The new regulations mean more manufacturers are targeting more efficient cars including electric and hybrid models.

For example, Vauxhall is set to launch its extended range electric car, the Vauxhall Ampera, in 2012. Renault has more ambitious plans after announcing four new electric vehicles, including a van, for 2012.