Tracking the evolution of a Ford Fiesta as it has developed across five generations reveals a 98 per cent cut in air quality emissions. That’s just one example of a series of emission and safety improvements published in an SMMT report called The Evolution of the Car.
Seven ‘old v new’ model pairs were compared on measures of air quality, CO2, fuel consumption and safety features. BMW, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, MINI, Toyota, Vauxhall and VW supplied data which revealed the following headline figures:
• A modern VW Golf 1.9 litre emits 78 per cent fewer diesel particulates than a 20-year-old equivalent powered by a smaller 1.6 litre diesel engine.
• The MINI Cooper has improved fuel consumption by 24 per cent and lowered CO2 by more than a fifth in just one generation.
• 76 modern Fiestas emit the same amount of NOx exhaust gas as one 1976 equivalent; 71 would produce the same quantity of hydrocarbons.
• All modern variants are now fitted with ABS as standard, all offer ESP at least as an option and no car is fitted with fewer than two air bags as standard.
One of the key facts to emerge is an improvement in fuel consumption across all models, despite significant weight increases, particularly when comparing modern variants with models from the 1970s and 1980s.
Christopher Macgowan, SMMT chief executive explained: “The benefits of today’s cleaner, safer cars are beyond question, but it is important we understand that a price has been paid in terms of increased weight. Heavier cars reduce fuel efficiency and increase CO2, demonstrating the consequences that improvements in one area of car design can have on another. This is a particularly important lesson for European regulators and policy makers.”
The Evolution of the Car is available to download free of charge and is published in advance of SMMT’s eighth annual Sustainability Report launch in Brussels. This tracks progress across UK car and commercial vehicle manufacturing sites and will show, for example, annual CO2 emissions from UK car and CV manufacturing have fallen 36.5 per cent from 2.14 to 1.36 million tonnes in just four years.
Both can be downloaded free of charge from