The average new car sold in the United Kingdom in 2003 emitted 9.3% less CO2 than models registered in 1997, according to a new Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) report.

Based on data from every new car registered last year, the figures also show a 1.2% year-on-year drop from 174.2 g/km in 2002 to 172.1 g/km in 2003.

With the establishment of CO2 based tax schemes, emissions data is now increasingly important for new car buyers. The third annual report, UK New Car Registrations by CO2 Performance, shows how the UK new car market has moved partly as a result of these changes, with growth in sales of superminis, more diesel models and growing demand for alternative fuelled vehicles.

In 2003 34.2% of all newly registered cars emitted less than 151 g/km, falling within one of the lowest three VED bands, compared to 7.8% in 1997.

Diesel models and cars in the supermini segment accounted for 27.3 and 33.9% of the overall market respectively. In 1997, the figures were 16.2 and 26.5%.

4,266 alternative fuelled cars were registered, 49.8% more than the 2,847 units reported in 2002.