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New car emissions drop from 174g/km to 133g/km CO2



The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) is celebrating 10 years of leading the shift to greener transport, over which time new car emissions have dropped from 174.2g/km CO2 in 2002 to 133.1g/km in 2012.

Some highlights surrounding the LowCVP’s 10 th birthday include:

• Average UK new car CO2 emissions are down by nearly a quarter in ten years; the most rapid progress in new car energy efficiency in UK history

• 10% of new cars sold in last quarter 2012 emitted less than 100g CO2/km

• UK automotive sector ends decade in positive mood: More than £150 billion to be invested in low carbon vehicle technologies in the UK over the next 20 years

• UK is largest market in Europe for low carbon and hybrid technology in buses

• LowCVP’s activities contributed directly to carbon savings of over 2mt COe; at a cost effectiveness of £3 per tCO2e

The LowCVP marks its 10th anniversary on January 29th 2013. During the past decade, the not-for-profit organisation has worked in close collaboration with Government, the car and fuels industries, vehicle users, NGOs and a range of other stakeholders, to help drive the low carbon vehicle agenda.

When the LowCVP was established, the average new car in the UK emitted 174.2g of CO2 per kilometre (2002 figures). The recently released 2012 figure was 133.1g per km; a reduction of 23.6% – the most rapid efficiency improvement in recent UK automotive history. At the same time, investments in the low carbon automotive sector have been rising quickly and are expected to continue to do so. More than £150 billion is forecast to be invested in low carbon vehicle technologies in the UK over the next 20 years.

Ten years ago, under its original mandate, the LowCVP aimed to achieve:

• By 2012, 10% of all new car sales will be cars emitting 100g/km CO2 or less at the tailpipe

• By 2012, 600 or more buses coming into operation per year will be low carbon, defined as 30% below current average carbon emissions

The first ambition was achieved in the fourth quarter of 2012 and, based on plans already announced, the bus sector is well on the way to achieving the second.

Andy Eastlake, Managing Director of the LowCVP, said: “The UK automotive industry ended 2012 on a high. Investment in low carbon technology development and production is providing growth and jobs in the UK – and has delivered the most rapid annual reductions in emissions and fuel use that the UK has ever seen.

“This success relies on every stakeholder playing an active part and ‘doing their bit’. The LowCVP sits at the centre of this agenda and develops the collaborative focus from research and innovation, all the way through to the buying public.”

LowCVP’s influence has ranged widely across the road transport spectrum for the last 10 years: from the successful introduction of a colour-coded fuel economy label for new (and latterly, used) cars; to the sustainability and carbon accreditation methodology for biofuels which was adopted by the Government; to the design and development of the Department for Transport’s Green Bus Fund, which has been a main driver in the deployment of over 850 low carbon buses on UK roads, making it one of the largest green public transport programmes in the world.

Paul Everitt, Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said: “The automotive industry has made significant progress in designing, developing and manufacturing low carbon vehicles since the formation of the LowCVP 10 years ago. The drive to deliver more fuel efficient motoring is shared across all major markets and companies recognise future success requires a range of innovative fuels and technologies.

“Industry continues to invest heavily in R&D powering the improvement of existing technologies and the introduction of other low carbon innovations. Only by working together as an industry and in partnership with Government and other stakeholders, can we progress towards a low carbon economy.”

The LowCVP has tackled tough issues; for example leading the drive to assess vehicles’ carbon emissions on an entire life cycle basis, including the manufacturing and end-of-life processes. With the arrival of electric vehicles and those powered by biofuel, future emissions will ultimately need to be assessed on a cradle-to-grave (rather than tailpipe emissions) basis and the LowCVP plans to be at the forefront of this change.

Transport Minister Norman Baker MP said: “LowCVP shares our commitment to achieving benefits for UK businesses and they have worked closely with the Government to help to reduce CO2 emissions and improve economic growth.

“This approach has proved a successful one and I hope to see the partnership continue to develop and improve in the future.”

Andy Eastlake added: “The LowCVP was a unique experiment in policy development when it was formed in 2003. The fact that it is still thriving ten years later is testimony to our members and the effectiveness of the participative approach to policy making and to the facilitation of industry-led approaches to cutting carbon from road transport. We are still held up as a model to other industries and countries and plan to keep leading the way for at least the next decade.”

Some of the LowCVP’s Achievements:


ˇ         Calculations show that LowCVP’s activities have contributed directly to carbon savings of over 2mt CO ?
e at a cost effectiveness of £3 per tCO2e (2013)

ˇ         Major report published on identifying the barriers to adopting fuel efficient low carbon heavy duty vehicles receives wide attention (2012)

ˇ         LowCVP brings stakeholders together to develop potential pathways to the implementation of the Renewable Energy Directive to 2020 and for introduction of E10 in UK (2012)

ˇ LowCVP Annual Conference attracts Transport Secretary and leading speakers once again (2012)

ˇ         LowCVP creates ‘ Toolkit’ to assist Local Transport Authorities on best practice in adopting policies to encourage low carbon emissions buses (2012)

ˇ         LowCVP works with DfT to secure the long term provision of used car labels via third parties (HPI and Experian), following a successful 18 month trial (2011)

ˇ Best Practice Principles (BPP) for Green Claims contributes to significant reduction in complaints to ASA regarding green claims about cars last year and only 2 upheld. Industry judged BPP to be useful tool. (2011)

ˇ         LowCVP launches a revised data-rich website and revises newsletter; strengthens other communications activities (2011-12)

ˇ         Supports DfT in developing a framework to encourage low carbon HGVs announced in Logistics Growth Review leading to £9.5m Low Carbon Truck Programme (2011)

ˇ         Works closely with DfT to support the introduction of (to date) nearly 600 low carbon buses through four rounds of the Green Bus Fund, which have helped to secure UK bus manufacturing jobs (2009-12)

ˇ         Conducts and project manages research by DfT into the van market leading to launch of Plugged ?
In Vans Grants . (2011)

ˇ         LowCVP leads a delegation of six low carbon SMEs to exhibit at Bibendum in Berlin

ˇ Low Carbon Vehicle Directory published with support from UKTI (2011)

ˇ         LowCVP Leads the biomethane in transport elements of the Anaerobic Digestion Strategy for Defra and commissions research into development of a market for gas trucks (2011)

ˇ         Leads the debate on opportunities and challenges in moving to a lifecycle CO ?
measure for vehicles (2011)

ˇ         LowCVP runs successful Low Carbon Community Challenge
; encourages voluntary-sector and other low carbon transport initiatives to take place at local level (2010)

ˇ         Runs HGV Technology Challenge ; good entries for a wide range of carbon-cutting technologies for the heavy goods sector (2010)

ˇ         Reform of Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) reflects advice provided by LowCVP (2010)

ˇ         Launch of Used Car Fuel Economy label facilitated by the LowCVP (2009)

ˇ         LowCVP introduces webinar technology to enhance discussions on low carbon issues while reducing the need to travel (2009)

ˇ         Survey shows 91% of new car dealers now display energy efficiency label (2009)

ˇ Carbon and sustainability accreditation system for biofuels designed by the LowCVP introduced alongside Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation by Government (2007-8)

ˇ         Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell Technology ( CENEX ) launched following agreement facilitated by LowCVP Working Groups. (2006)

ˇ         LowCVP contributes to the DfT review of the Powering Future Vehicles Strategy (2006)

ˇ Colour-coded fuel economy label is launched at the LowCVP’s second annual conference by the Secretary of State for Transport (2005)

ˇ         LowCVP publishes a major study on well-to-wheel carbon emissions for bioethanol produced from wheat. Study shows greenhouse gas benefits vary significantly across different production pathways (2005)

For more details see:

Read our LowCVP Conference 2012 review


Read our LowCVP Conference 2011 review


Additional comments about the LowCVP:


John Lewis, Chief Executive of the British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association (BVRLA), said : “Over the past ten years the LowCVP has set a clear vision for the future of low-carbon road transport, championing best practice and providing an objective view amidst all the eco-hype and greenwash.

“It has played a vital leadership and enabling role and must take much of the credit for the remarkable progress that has been made over the last decade. I am proud to have worked with the LowCVP and proud of the contribution made by the vehicle rental and leasing industry, which has led the way in reducing average new car CO 2 emissions.”

Dr Doug Parr, Chief Scientist & Policy Director for Greenpeace UK, said : “The LowCVP has pushed forward the low carbon agenda effectively without making it difficult or confrontational for Government or the companies concerned.”

Konstanze Scharring, Head of Public Policy and Vehicle Legislation at the SMMT and Deputy Launch Director of the LowCVP in 2003 , said: “The LowCVP has been a catalyst for collective action by government, industry, NGOs and wider stakeholders which helped create today’s highly competitive market for ever lower carbon vehicles in the UK.

“It was the beginning of a new approach, which recognises that the carbon and industrial agendas are merging and all stakeholders have a role to play. The conversations facilitated through the LowCVP, the shared understanding and shared discussion has put us all on the road to low carbon.”

Mike Weston, Operations Director for London Buses, Transport for London , said: “The LowCVP has played a key role in bringing all the right parties together, ensuring there is a good exchange of information and good dialogue. This has undoubtedly been for the greater good in the development of low carbon bus technology.”

Professor Neville Jackson, Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, Ricardo plc and Chairman, LowCVP said: “In my view, the success of the Low Vehicle Partnership over the past 10 years has been driven by the Partnership’s ability to develop a common agenda and action plan consistent with the aims and objectives of all our key stakeholders.  Clear leadership from the Managing Director, Board and Working Groups have also been very important to make progress and to drive projects and initiatives forward.”

Jim Skea, Professor of Sustainable Energy at Imperial College London, member of the Committee on Climate Change and Launch Director of the LowCVP in 2003, said: “Overall it has been a success story. Emissions from road transport are definitely lower than they otherwise would have been, helped by the activities of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership.”

Clare Wenner, Head of Renewable Transport at the Renewable Energy Association said: “The collaborative approach of the Low CVP has promoted a holistic view of low carbon policy in the road transport sector. This includes low carbon fuels as well as vehicles. As long as the internal combustion engine remains the vehicle of choice for consumers low carbon fuels will be essential if low carbon targets are to be met.”

R. Graham Smith OBE, Managing Director Toyota Motor Europe London Office, Executive Advisor to the President Toyota Motor Europe, said : “Low carbon, low emission vehicles are important not just for the environment but also for the economy, for UK manufacturing and in reducing the motoring costs of retail and fleet buyers alike.

“The LowCVP has played a central role in delivering these benefits and Toyota has maintained its support throughout. As the first Chairman of the LowCVP, I’m proud personally to have been associated with the Partnership since its launch in 2003 .”


Edmund King, President of the AA, said : “The LowCVP has helped debunk many myths and put vehicle economy top of the mind for the majority of motorists. Our latest AA/Populus poll of 17,883 drivers shows that a majority (51%) think it is important to own an environmentally sensitive or ‘green’ vehicle and 85% think a cost-efficient vehicle is important. These attributes far exceed those looking for a fast/powerful car (17%) or even a stylish vehicle (32%).” *

* Populus received 17,883 responses from its on-line survey of AA members between 14-20 December 2012. Populus is a founding member of the British polling Council and abides by its rules.

Olly Macé, Head of Strategy & External Affairs for BP Biofuels, said : “The LowCVP is conducting true life cycle analysis of all the low carbon technologies. It’s very important that we understand their full life cycle carbon performance, including the embedded emissions in the manufacture and disposal of vehicles. Only with that data will we be able to make the right decisions for the future.”

Jon Hilton, Managing Director of Flybrid Automotive, said : “The LowCVP has very strong Government links which is missing from a lot of organisations in this space. The LowCVP can explain and introduce emerging technologies to Government and also help influence policy so it is aligned with where the technology is going.”

10th Anniversary Celebrations – 29 January

The LowCVP’s Tenth Anniversary Reception and third LowCVP Low Carbon Champions Awards take place on Tuesday 29 January at One Birdcage Walk, Westminster. To register, please visit the booking site . Please note that the Anniversary Reception is a LowCVP members-priority event.

Anniversary Reception 5.30-7.30pm includes speeches from Transport Minister Norman Baker (6pm) and LowCVP Managing Director Andy Eastlake (6.15pm). Champions Awards 7.30-c8.45pm includes a contribution by Lord Deben – John Gummer – Chair of the Committee on Climate Change. Former ‘Tomorrow’s World’ presenter, Kate Bellingham is the Awards MC.

The LowCVP Tenth Anniversary Reception is sponsored by BAE Systems HybriDrive , BP Biofuels and Michelin . It is hosted by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers .

About LowCVP

The LowCVP is a public-private, not-for-profit partnership that exists to accelerate a sustainable shift to lower carbon vehicles and fuels and create opportunities for UK businesses. The LowCVP has been – and continues to be – mainly funded by the Department for Transport with contributions from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and, increasingly, by membership fees and sponsorship/other income. Around 200 organisations are members, from diverse backgrounds including automotive and fuel supply chains, vehicle users, NGOs, academics and other stakeholders.

The LowCVP’s five working groups focus on the main areas of activity and establish project teams for specific tasks. The Partnership’s strategic direction is determined by a Board of leading stakeholders representing the different stakeholder constituencies.  A Members Council oversees the work programme and supports the permanent Secretariat which is headed by the LowCVP Managing Director.

Official figures on the average CO 2 emissions from passenger cars, quoted above, are produced by the automotive industry’s trade association the SMMT: