[mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]New figures published today by Transport & Environment (T&E) show BMW and Mazda led the field with 10% and 8.2% reductions to the average CO2 emissions for cars sold in Europe in 2008. But nine of the fourteen volume producers in the ranking achieved just 4% or lower (1). Improvements to fuel efficiency are directly linked to reductions in CO2 emissions. A new European law setting binding targets for average CO2 emissions was agreed at the end of last year. According to the report, the striking differences in performance by different carmakers reflect the amount of work each has to do to reach their new EU targets. Progress slowed dramatically at Fiat and Peugeot-Citroën (PSA), who have Europe’s cleanest fleets on average and are close to meeting their EU targets. Conversely Suzuki and Mazda, who have been slow to improve efficiency in the past, and consequently have a long way to go to meet EU targets, made big steps forward in 2008. Jos Dings, director of Transport & Environment said: “The new EU law is already having an impact. If the overall drop in average CO2 emissions was purely related to the financial crisis, fuel prices or changing consumer behaviour, we would have expected to see every company reducing much more equally. But what is actually happening is that carmakers are seeing how far they have to cut and changing their fleets accordingly.” The positive impact of the cars legislation adds to the evidence that legally-binding targets should be extended to vans and lorries. Dings said : "Clearly regulation is working, and if it works for cars, it will work for vans where progress so far has been even worse. Fuel efficient vans will be good for the environment, and save billions on fuel costs for the many businesses, small and large that depend on them." According to media reports, the EU is set to announce legally-binding targets for vans in the coming weeks. (2) Download the report here. (1) The car company CO2 report also analyses some of the strategies carmakers are employing to bring down their average emissions. Ford sold off its gas guzzling Jaguar and LandRover brands; that move alone accounted for over half of the company’s average CO2 reductions. Volkswagen group, together with Japanese hybrid manufacturers Toyota and Honda made relatively poor progress because they continue to offer the most fuel efficient technologies as an option rather than across the range. The relatively small number of BlueMotion, Prius and Civic Hybrid sales in 2008 had a correspondingly low impact on fleet average emissions. Conversely, BMW group, who recorded the biggest improvements for the second year running, offers its ‘Efficient Dynamics’ technologies across its entire product range. (2) Vans now represent 13% of light vehicle (car and van) sales in Europe, but the share is increasing rapidly. Sales of vans have increased by 50% over the last decade.