New cars are putting less harmful exhaust emissions into the atmosphere than ever before, new figures show.
According to the new data those buying a new car are now typically emitting 124.6g of carbon per kilometre travelled.
The new 2014 figure represents a 24% improvement on 2007, and is 2.9% better than the level for the previous year.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) says the figure also compares favourably with the EU target of 130g per kilometre (130g/km). While less than 1% of new cars met or fell under the EU-wide target at the turn of the century, more than two-thirds (68.6%) now do so.
By the end of the decade, though, the EU wants new cars to have emission levels of 95g/km or less.
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: "It is good news that we are seeing a further reduction in average carbon dioxide emissions which is clearly testament to how well motor manufacturers are rising to the challenge.
"What we now need to do is review the Vehicle Excise Duty bands for new cars which make first-year duty free if a vehicle emits less than 130g of carbon dioxide per kilometre. These were set at a time when the average new car had emissions well above that with a view to incentivising buyers to choose a low carbon option.
"In order to maintain the incentive for motorists to buy the most fuel efficient, low carbon models the bandings should be reset to reflect the current environmental performance of vehicles - so that the threshold at which new cars become exempt from duty reduces year on year."
The SMMT says the improvement has been achieved by a growth in alternatively-fuelled cars as well as the development of more efficient petrol and diesel engines.
Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the SMMT, says while major progress has been made by the industry, meeting the tougher new targets in 2020 will be a challenge that will entail continued investment and support.
Copyright Press Association 2015