Demand for hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) such as the Toyota Prius is growing dramatically in the UK, according to the latest sales figures.
Hybrids are powered by electric motors and petrol engines and produce low green house gas emissions compared to conventional cars.
Industry analyst Frost & Sullivan says the UK is now one of the top five HEV markets in the world.
It adds that in 2006 HEV sales grew by approximately 23 per cent in developed countries such as the US, UK and Japan.
Electric cars such as the G-Wiz, Sakura and NICE Mega City along with hybrid cars including Toyota Prius, Honda Civic, Lexus RX, and GS Hybrids are exempt from the London congestion charge.
Frost & Sullivan says this means London commuters can save more than £1600 annually and such benefits are likely to further boost the HEV market in the UK.
Which? Motoring Editor Richard Headland said: ‘You can see why UK buyers find hybrids appealing – they save money on tax and fuel.
‘But the sophisticated technology means they are relatively expensive to buy, so a hybrid may not make true financial sense unless you regularly drive in London and avoid the congestion charge.
‘But with proposed changes to the congestion charge next year – exempting all vehicles emitting 120g/km of CO2 or less – it will be interesting to see whether buyers still vote for hybrids ahead of cheaper toll-free cars, such as the most fuel-efficient diesel superminis and small hatchbacks.’