Motor industry manufacturers are facing growing pressure from the Government in a bid to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60 per cent in the next 30 years.
Almost a quarter of all CO2 emissions are generated by motor vehicles, according to the Environment Agency, and with road travel expected to increase by around a third in the next 30 years, many firms have developed new technology to help the industry clean up its act.
Hybrid engines - which combine a petrol or diesel engine with a battery-powered electric motor - have been adopted by Japanese manufacturers Toyota and Honda amongst others.
Toyota launched the Prius in 1997 as the world's first mass-produced hybrid, and the car's second version won the 2005 European Car of the Year.
Toyota has since taken the hybrid engine to Lexus - its luxury marque - and the RX 400h subsequently became the world's first premium SUV to feature hybrid technology.
Sports utility vehicles have received a barrage of criticism from environmental experts for the traditionally high CO2 emissions and poor fuel economy rates.
However, SUV market leader, Land Rover, has already made progress by reducing emissions across it vehicle range by 13 per cent in nine years.
This is illustrated by the petrol version of the new Freelander, which has reduced harmful emissions by 11 per cent from its predecessor.
Land Rover has also launched a catalogue of new innovative technology known as Land_e, which will potentially improve fuel economy by 30 per cent, and make significant emission reductions.
Land_e benefits include an electric system to power the vehicle at low speed without use of the combustion engine, improving fuel economy.
Another example allows the vehicle to switch off the engine automatically when stuck in traffic, and restart when the vehicle is ready to move on, thus reducing emissions.
Malvern-based Morgan Motor Company and five other UK firms are currently undertaking the £1.9 million Lifecar project - partly funded by the Department of Trade and Industry - to create a sportscar powered only by hydrogen.
The Lifecar, which will be powered by a fuel cell converting hydrogen into electricity, will look very similar to the Morgan Aero 8, and will be unveiled as a prototype in late 2007.
The first premium car to incorporate hydrogen power is likely to come from German manufacturers BMW, who unveiled a version of the 7-Series known as the Hydrogen 7.
The vehicle - which will run on hydrogen or petrol - is powered by a 6-litre, 260bhp, V12 engine, capable of 143mph.
"A small number of Hydrogen 7s will be available in the UK on a contract hire basis in the next of couple years," a BMW spokesman said.
"However, we are currently face the chicken and egg scenario, because from our point of view only one fuel station in the UK sells hydrogen. However, the major franchises would argue that there is mass demand to stock the fuel."
In the automotive distribution market, Coventry-based manufacturer Modec will begin mass-production in the new year of three environmentally friendly electronic-powered vehicles.
From a single charge, the battery-powered Modec Van, flatbed-tipper, and chassis cab - which produce no harmful emissions - can all cover up to 100 miles and carry a load of up to two tonnes.
The vehicles - which are exempt from road tax - are set to revolutionise urban delivery and have attracted the interest of many blue-chip companies in the UK.