Green movement

The shift away from diesel has more drivers planning to choose an eco-friendly car than ever before, with nearly a quarter (22%) claiming they are ready to make the switch, according to new research by AA Cars.

The AA-Populus poll of over 20,000 drivers shows that this would be a dramatic increase from the two per cent of drivers who currently drive a green car.

Nevertheless, the changing perception of green vehicles is something which is echoed by original data from AA Cars, which shows a 470% increase in people searching for used hybrid and electric vehicles, since 2014.

The positive outlook for alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) is in stark contrast with that for diesel – the research finds that fewer than one in eight (12%) drivers are intending to choose diesel, when the time comes to purchase a new car.

The data suggests that confusing government policy (56%) and contrasting stories reported in the media (58%) have put buyers off seeking out diesels as their next car – increasing taxes for the majority of diesel drivers and a contrasting narrative that newer diesel technology is cleaner than other fuel types has added to this confusion.

Diesel owners themselves are likely to be the most confused by the shift in messaging and 92% of them call on the government to provide a clearer picture on the future of diesel vehicles in the UK. As a fifth of diesel car drivers say they would never expect to own another diesel again, clearer policy that doesn’t lump all diesels drivers together in universally paying higher tax rates would be most welcome for drivers and the industry.

The need for clarity is cemented even further as a quarter of drivers (24%) mistakenly believe that new diesel cars are as harmful to the environment as older ones. As a result of this misconception, there has been a 45% decrease in people searching for used diesel cars on the AA Cars site over the last five years.

James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars, said,The appetite for electric and hybrid vehicles has increased significantly over the last few years, which is in no small part due to big technological leaps forward in the space. These advances mean vehicles can travel further on a single charge, charge points are an increasingly common sight across the country (currently over 18,000, being added to at a rate of about 800 per month) and manufacturers are designing more attractive models all the time. These are all contributing to the warming public opinion of environmentally friendly cars.

‘The government has been keeping an eye on this increasing take-up and is now withdrawing grants for plug-in hybrids and reducing existing grants for pure electric vehicles. The implication is that mounting enthusiasm for non-traditionally fuelled cars won’t be dampened by removing financial incentives from the government.

‘The outlook for diesel cars appears less positive though as our research reflects a mixture of misconception and uncertainty among traditional diesel drivers. As it stands, the used car market is following a similar trajectory to the new car market, with an uplift in searches for used green vehicles and a decrease in searches for diesel cars.

‘Drivers are clearly crying out for a sense of clarity on diesel cars. A fair voice would help to demonstrate that modern diesels can be clean and fuel-efficient but also bolster the place of green vehicles in the car industry – this isn’t a zero-sum game.

‘The pervasive feeling of uncertainty around the role of diesels is distorting and confusing the market for buyers and sellers. Before parting ways with money for a new or used diesel, it’s worth looking at sites like AA Cars to check that you’re getting the best deal for your money by comparing against the price tag of similar models and ages.’