Car manufacturers are reducing the levels of emissions from their vehicles which could see them meeting the European Union pollution objectives ahead of time, environmental activists have said.
A study by Transportation & Environment said that cars sold in the EU in 2009 emitted 5.1% less carbon dioxide than vehicles sold the preceding year.
According to the Brussels-based agency, that is the fastest annual reduction in emissions since the EU started compiling data a decade ago.
Japanese car maker Toyota is faster than any other car maker, cutting emissions by 10%.
EU regulators will impose fines on car manufacturers if, by 2015, they have not cut the average CO2 emissions in their vehicles by 35% from 1995 levels.
The EU aims to reduce its total greenhouse gas emissions by at least 8% between 2008 and 2012. This includes CO2, which like other greenhouse gases, is considered to be a major contributor to global warming.
If a drastic switch to more environmentally friendly vehicles takes place in the next few years, drivers could be offered better deals on their car insurance policies.
The European Environment Agency estimates that vehicles account for around 14% of the total CO2 emissions of the EU.
Transportation & Environment said that last year's emission reductions were a result of two things - the economic crisis and cash incentives to discard old cars and replace them with new ones, which led to more people opting for smaller, cheaper, and more fuel-efficient cars.
However, the report also said that advancements in technology had led to more than 50% of the cuts in emissions, adding that the 2009 figures should not have been such a surprise for car manufacturers.
© Press Association 2010