In Brief

New cars’ CO2 emissions reach a five-year high

Carbon dioxide figures continue to rise despite cars ‘becoming cleaner’

Average CO2 emissions for new cars sold in Britain have reached their highest point in five years.

According to figures from the Department for Transport, the average carbon output of new cars sold in September hit a peak of 128.3g/km, up from the 122.9g/km recorded in August. 

September’s figure “reflects starkly” with the lowest average CO2 emissions on record – the 119.2g/km recorded in August 2016, Autocar reports. 

The latest figure is the highest since July 2013, when new car emissions hit 128.7g/km.

It’s believed the introduction of the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), a more thorough measuring system for emissions and fuel economy, on 1 September is behind the rise in CO2 figures, says Auto Express.

Although cars are “becoming cleaner”, the magazine says the old New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) procedure wasn’t as accurate as the WLTP tests and could make vehicles seem greener than they actually were.

However, Autocar says that the high average CO2 figure can also be blamed on the “sharp decline in diesel sales” in Britain. 

Deliveries of diesel cars dropped by 31% in 2017 after the Government increased road tax rates for vehicles using the fuel, pushing buyers towards petrol-powered models, the magazine says. 

This is reflected in figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders posted earlier this week, which showed that petrol car sales increased by 7.1% while diesel models plummeted by 21.3%.

Diesel cars have gained a negative reputation after the Volkswagen emissions scandal in 2015, when harmful NOx gases were covered up by “defeat devices”, but they do tend to produce less CO2 compared with their petrol counterparts.

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