Italian and Japanese auto giants Fiat and Toyota are bang on course to smash through European Union carbon emissions targets years ahead of schedule, new analysis showed Thursday.
A European Commission-funded study of new cars manufactured in 2009 by the European Federation for Transport and Environment showed both automakers just short of the EU target of 130 grammes of CO2 per kilometre (g/km) by 2015, on 131 and 132 respectively.
Powerful German brands produced by BMW (151), Volkswagen (153) and Daimler (Mercedes hit 167) brought up the rear.
In 2008 carmakers successfully pushed back from 2012 to 2015 the deadline for technological innovation, allowing them to meet stipulations, in exchange for a commitment to drop to 95 g/km by 2020.
Despite not insignificant loopholes, they can be heavily fined if they miss these targets as the EU strives to meet wider aims in reducing emissions of harmful gases blamed for negative climate change effects.
"All available evidence suggests that carmakers in Europe are heading for very significant overcompliance with the CO2 regulation and are hence likely to hit the target for 2015 years in advance," said author Jos Dings in the report.
Taking 14 major manufacturers together, the car industry as a whole reduced its "sales-weighted average emissions of CO2/km by a record 5.1 percent in 2009."
The report, which can be found at www.transportenvironment.org, said Toyota made the biggest progress in 2009, recording "a 10 percent improvement in fuel efficiency over the year."
The authors highlighted the effects of the financial crisis and government subsidies for new cars, "shifting demand to cheaper cars which are typically smaller and pollute less."
But it stressed that "actually at least half of the reductions in 2009 were achieved through better drivetrain technology."
The researchers hope the results will influence negotiations on emissions targets for light trucks and other commercial vehicles.
The report spells out that one litre of petrol consumption leads to about 2.34 kilos of CO2, and one litre of diesel to about 2.62.
Explore further: Researchers provide guide to household water conservation