Are diesel cars running out of gas?

UK drivers are falling out of love with diesel cars as new research shows a significant drop in buying intentions in the past three years – instead, hybrid and electric vehicles are their new favourites.

This is according to research from used car website AA Cars, which says the appetite for hybrids and EVs has doubled since 2014.

By contrast, the desire for diesels amongst UK drivers has fallen – last year, under two in 10 (18%) intended to buy a diesel as their next car, down from 23% in 2014.

Environmental concerns, the increased range of hybrid and electric vehicles and a boom in public charging points, has seen the appetite for alternatively powered cars double to 12% over the same period. In addition, the number of drivers undecided about what type of fuel to opt for increased to 19% last year from 13% in 2014, mirroring the fall in popularity of diesel and suggesting that they are considering a more environmentally acceptable option.

The AA-Populus poll, which canvassed 17,979 AA members on their car purchasing intentions, indicates that an extra 3.6 million hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric cars could be on the roads of the UK in the next few years.

This uptick in low emission car buying intentions wasn’t just to be found in the new car market – online searches for electric cars alone on AA Cars were up by 53% in 2016 on the previous year.

Simon Benson, director of motoring services at AA Cars, said, ‘Ongoing concerns around air quality, nitrogen dioxide emissions and whether the government will bring a carrot or stick approach to diesel vehicles has all helped to drive a shift in the attitudes of car buyers. Zero or low emission cars are increasingly looking like a viable alternative to traditional fuel types of purely petrol or diesel as they become more affordable and easier to use on longer journeys.

‘The government’s plans to commit £35m to help install new charge points and offer new grants to develop the charging network, announced late last year and confirmed in the Budget, coupled with higher range battery development, will help to reinforce this and, ultimately, calm fears about drivers getting stranded in the middle of nowhere.

‘It’s no coincidence that this changing attitude to fuel types is accompanying a change in used car buying habits. The internet is empowering car buyers by arming them with a wealth of information, on what is available and for what price before they even reach the forecourt – whether that’s lower emissions or just a more affordable car.’