Official: 2011 is greener than 2010

In the latest SMMT figures it has been revealed that the average CO2 figure in 2011 has improved by 4.2 per cent compared to 2010 and now stands at 138.1g/km.

But why is this important?

First of all CO2 emissions are used to set the level of road tax, or Vehicle Excise Duty, an owner will pay. It also affects whether a driver is eligible for exemption from the London congestion charge and, more importantly, the EU is phasing out new cars which do not comply with CO2 emissions criteria.

So it is good news the average new car is now greener than ever in the UK.

This may be due to new and more environmentally friendly models being released, including the likes of the Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero.

Although these cars are in fact very economical their popularity and therefore sales are still making a name for themselves, so 2011 sales were modest for both of the models.

In terms of popularity models like the Ford Fiesta/Focus and Vauxhall Corsa/Insignia topped the charts. This may raise the question of ‘why did the average emissions figure fall then’?

The answer is, ‘because of Eco-signature engines’. For example, the Vauxhall Insignia is a saloon and is part of a market segment that is usually synonymous with high emissions.

But the Vauxhall Insignia offers a 2.0CDTi ecoFLEX engine which emits just 115g/km of CO2 emissions and returns a combined fuel consumption of 65.7mpg. This ecoFLEX engine also offers start/stop technology which saves fuel (therefore emits less) when idling in traffic.

The new Ford Focus’s emission figures are also impressive with less than 100g/km of CO2 emissions from its EcoBoost engine.

However these emissions do not mean that cars like the Vauxhall Insignia and Ford Focus diminish in quality and power. Both models are renowned for interior comfort and the Focus produces 161hp and the Insignia produces 158hp.

So, if you’re looking for a new car in 2012 there are plenty of low emission models to choose from, which are only going to get better as technology improves.