New cars sold in the U.K. last year collectively met the European Union’s 2015 target for carbon-dioxide emissions.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders says in a report the average new car in the region emits 128.3 g/km of CO2, a 3.6% decrease over 2013 and below the 2015 EU-wide fleet average target of 130 g/km CO2.

The U.K. auto industry saw 2013 sales rise 10.8% to 2,264,737 units, the best result since 2007 and making it Europe’s second-largest market.

“A new car is 20% more efficient than the average car in use, so consumers will notice a real difference when replacing their old car,” the SMMT says in a statement.

Automakers have invested heavily to develop, deliver and market lower CO2-emitting cars, and the SMMT says this has been supported by consumer buying behavior.

Sales in the minicar segment almost doubled against 2012, while the supermini sector showed solid growth as well. There also has been a threefold increase in the number of plug-in models on the market in the past three years. Sales of alternatively fueled vehicles grew 17.6% last year to 32,731 with 7.7% of them all-electric vehicles.

The U.K. is a center for automotive R&D, and a main focus of the joint government-industry automotive-sector strategy launched last year is the Advanced Propulsion Centre, which will channel more than £1 billion ($1.66 billion) into development of the region as a world leader in low-carbon technologies.

SMMT CEO Mike Hawes says the U.K. automotive industry should be proud of the progress it has made in improving the environmental impact of its vehicles.

“Average new-car CO2 emissions are almost 30% lower than in 2000, boosted by increasing uptake of the most efficient engine technologies, alternatively fueled vehicles and the new (government) Go Ultra Low campaign,” he says.

“Through the automotive-sector strategy, it has been hugely encouraging to see government’s determination to ensure the U.K. is at the forefront of research, development and introduction of low-carbon vehicles.”