Tailpipe emissions from new cars continue to fall and an increasing number of new models on sale in the United Kingdom are already meeting tough new European Union legislation – a full three years before it becomes effective.

These are among the key findings of the motor industry’s third annual sustainability report, published today – Environment Day – at the British International Motor Show in Birmingham.

The report examines the industry’s performance in the so-called “triple bottom line” – balancing economic goals with environmental and social responsibility.

It shows that average CO2 emissions from new cars are now down 6.4% on 1997 levels. And, as manufacturers develop ever cleaner petrol and diesel engines, the report also reveals that more than 75 models on the market meet the Euro IV emissions standard – three years before it is introduced.

“The industry is committed to improving its performance over the triple bottom line and reporting on it publicly,” said Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive Christopher Macgowan.

“From the wide range of alternative fuel concept cars and production models on display at this year’s motor show, it is clear that green issues are top of the agenda. And it is particularly encouraging that the latest sustainability report shows falling carbon dioxide emissions from new cars – a trend we expect to continue in years to come.”

The report also shows that, although total vehicle production fell in 2001, new vehicle registrations reached a record annual total of 2.77 million units – making Britain the second largest new car market in Europe.

Meanwhile, also published at the show today was a set of industry guidelines detailing best practice in a number of areas which component suppliers are being encouraged to adopt.