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Average CO2 Emissions per Car in the UK

We've analysed data from the Department for Transport to learn about car emissions in the UK today, and how trends are changing. Find out about per car CO2 emissions, annual emissions per car, and emissions of new cars today.

In this article

Average CO2 Emissions per Car UK

In the UK, average CO2 emissions per car are 138.4 grams per km (or 221.4 grams per mile), according to latest 2020 data from the Department for Transport. Carbon dioxide emissions per car steadily declined every year between 2001 and 2018, decreasing by around 2.7 g/km each year (and have declined again into 2021). Overall, average per car emissions dropped 17% over that 11 year time period (from 171.1 g/km in 2007 to 141.8 k/km in 2018).

Chart showing the average emissions per car in the UK

The data displayed here represents Great Britain only from 2007 - 2013 and the UK from 2014.

Average CO2 emissions per car in the UKgrams per kmgrams per mile
2007171.1275.4
2008169.5272.9
2009167.6269.7
2010165.2265.9
2011162.8262.0
2012160.1257.6
2013157.0252.7
2014153.8247.5
2015150.4242.1
2016147.1236.8
2017144.2232.1
2018141.8228.2
2019139.8223.7
2020138.4221.4

Average CO2 Emissions Per Car Per Year UK

Considering the average car drives 7,600 miles per year in the UK, the average car releases 1,682,383 grams of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.

How Much CO2 Does the Average Car Emit Per Year in the UK?
Average car co2 emissions per mile221.4 g/mi
Average car mileage per year7,600
Average CO2 emissions per car per year UK1,682,383 grams of CO2

Average CO2 Emissions in New Cars UK

In terms of newly registered cars only, average carbon dioxide emissions of cars registered for the first time were 116.2g/km in the third quarter of 2021, down from 178.8 g/km in 2001—a drop of 35% over 20 years. On a per mile basis, the average new car now emits around 185 grams per mile.

While new car emissions have declined overall since 2001, emissions in new cars had actually popped up in 2018-2022, although since then the figures have reached a new low of 116.2g/km or 185.9g/mile in Q3 2021, as you can see below.

Average CO2 emissions for new cars in the UK (2001 - 2014 data for GB only)g/kmg/mi
2001178.8287.7
2002175.0281.7
2003172.6277.7
2004171.3275.6
2005169.7273.1
2006167.7269.9
2007164.7265.1
2008158.2254.6
2009149.7241.0
2010144.3232.2
2011138.2222.4
2012133.0214.0
2013128.4206.7
2014124.8200.8
2015121.4195.4
2016120.2193.5
2017121.2195.0
2018124.8200.9
2019127.8204.5
2020127.9204.6
2021 (Q3)116.2185.9

Most Common Car Emissions Bands

It's also interesting to look at how vehicles in the UK are distributed across the range of emission bands, and how the trends are changing. As you can see below, 28.5% of new cars fall into the 111 - 130 g/km CO2 emissions band in the UK, making this the most common emissions band for cars purchased today. However, there is a tremendous increase in the percentage of cars emitting only 0 g/km (12.3% of new cars fall within this band), and also a noticeable increase in the 2nd lowest band of 1-50g/km (a jump up to 6.1% of new cars at Q3 2021).

Chart showing the percentage of UK cars in each CO2 emissions band

The data illustrates how a higher proportion of new cars falls into lower emission categories compared to all registered cars, which highlights the trend towards lower-emission cars in the UK market today. As you can see, the trend is towards low emissions cars including some of the best electric cars (e.g., Nissan Leaf, Tesla, etc.) which produce zero carbon emissions.

Percentage of Cars by CO2 Emissions Band UK (2018)All CarsNewly Registered Cars
0 g/km0.6%12.3%
1 - 50 g/km0.6%6.1%
51-75 g/km0.2%0.7%
76 - 90 g/km1.2%0.2%
91 - 100 g/km6.5%2.0%
101 - 110 g/km11.1%4.7%
111 - 130 g/km26.7%28.5%
131 - 150 g/km22.1%22.0%
151 - 170 g/km13.5%11.5%
171 - 190 g/km6.7%4.9%
191 - 225 g/km4.5%2.9%
226 - 255 g/km1.6%1.5%
Over 255 g/km1.5%0.9%
Unknown3.3%1.8%

Sources

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The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.

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