New cars launched in 2013 were 4pc less pollutant than cars released in 2012, beating a target of this reduction being achieved by 2015, new data from the European Environment Agency (EAA) suggests.
In its latest news release, the EEA established that its provisional data shows that the average CO2 emissions level of a new car sold in 2013 was 127 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre, below the 2015 target of 130 grams.
The main drivers of efficiency have been technological improvements and higher sales of diesel cars, which typically have lower emissions levels than petrol equivalents.
However, the EEA stresses that car manufacturers will need to continue this production of more fuel-efficient and less pollutant cars if it’s to meet its target of only 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre by 2021.
The report also found the efficiency gap between new petrol and diesel vehicles has been decreasing in recent years. Compared to the current levels, the average emissions gap between petrol and diesel was more than 10 times higher in 2000.
The number of pure clean-tech vehicles was also shown to have increased, with 24,000 electric vehicles registered in 2013, which represents a 71pc increase on 2012 numbers.
An additional 31,000 plug-in hybrid cars were registered in 2013.
"This is good news. But passenger transport still generates a significant part of total greenhouse gas emissions of the EU, so we need to think about more sustainable transport systems – the car cannot solve all our problems in the 21st century," said EEA executive director Hans Bruyninckx.