Confidence lost in VM claims

The Volkswagen emissions scandal has damaged motorists’ trust in all vehicle manufacturers’ environmental claims with six in 10 drivers (57%) saying they have lost confidence since the news broke, according to new RAC research.

There is also widespread belief among 66% of those surveyed that the emissions testing process in Europe is not close enough to real-world driving conditions, but while concern about diesel emissions has clearly gone up among the 2,565 motorists surveyed by the RAC, nearly three-quarters of drivers (73%) say they are generally more worried about fuel consumption than they are about health-harming emissions.

Half (55%) claim to be concerned about the impact that emissions of pollutants from diesel cars have on air quality in their area, but around 15% admitted they don’t understand the impact of oxides of nitrogen emissions.

And, even though concerns amongst those surveyed about harmful oxides of nitrogen emissions from diesel vehicles have almost doubled (24% to 43%) since the late September announcement that VW had used software to defeat emissions tests, 96% of diesel drivers said they had no plans to reduce how much they drive their vehicles.

Diesel as a vehicle fuel does not appear to have been damaged by the story dominating the headlines as, despite all the negative attention about the harmful effects of diesel emissions, there is no appetite among motorists for increasing the level of taxation charged on diesel cars. Nearly half of the motorists questioned (47%) disagreed with the idea that diesel cars should be taxed more than petrol cars, with three in 10 (29%) not having a view either way and less than a quarter (24%) in favour of higher charges for diesels.

Surprisingly, only a small minority (22%) of diesel vehicle owners have concerns that their cars will be harder to sell second-hand; over half (51%) have no such fears with a further quarter (27%) uncertain whether it will or won’t affect re-sale. And, only a third (34%) believe the second-hand value of their diesel vehicle will be lower than it was before the VW revelations, with the remaining 63% harbouring no such concerns.

RAC chief engineer, David Bizley, said, ‘It’s clear from our research that despite all the talk about the real world emissions of pollutants from diesel cars and light commercial vehicles exceeding test values, motorists are generally far more concerned about their vehicles’ fuel economy than they are about its emissions of pollutants.’