The corporate sector has been praised for driving forward the uptake of low-emission cars, with the boss of the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders telling BusinessCar that demands from the market have helped push the impressive recent efficiency improvements.

“I think there’s no doubt that the company car taxation regime and business users have been very significant in influencing the way the market goes, and a few years ago it was very difficult for manufacturers to sell eco variants,” said SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt.

“There is demand from business users to have performance but still the tax advantages. The sense was a few years back that eco variants don’t perform as well, but now a lot of manufacturers have worked hard to ensure the driving experience is also compatible.”

Everitt predicted that the next phase of emissions reduction will mainly change focus slightly away from the engine itself: “There are inevitably limits in how far you can push conventional technology, but everyone feels substantial further progress can be achieved with things like weight and aerodynamics, but also within the technical scope for improvement.”