Drivers warming to greener carsCredit crunch and rising costs driving car choices

05 September 2008

The Seat Ibiza Ecomotive is exempt from annual road tax

The Seat Ibiza Ecomotive is exempt from annual road tax

Drivers are increasingly considering the environment when buying used cars, a new survey shows.

Six per cent of those questioned as part of this year’s British Car Auctions used car market report said environmental issues would affect their choice of used car – up from 4% last year and just 2% in 2006.

Meanwhile 28% said they would choose a car with lower CO2 emissions because of changes to the road tax system.

Drivers pay road tax based on their car’s CO2 emissions. From next year, the worst polluters will be charged up to £440, while cars emitting less than 100g/km – such as Seat Ibiza Ecomotive and Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion – remain exempt from annual charges.

Soaring costs

The survey shows soaring motoring costs are also affecting drivers’ choices, with 22% claiming they will look for a model with lower maintenance and fuel costs when it comes to replacing their car.

And in an attempt to beat the credit crunch, 9% said they would go for a model in a lower car insurance group. The same number of respondents said they would simply buy a cheaper car.

The crunch means some drivers won’t be able to change cars as soon as they’d like. Seven per cent told BCA they are postponing a car purchase in the short term, while 4% are deferring indefinitely.

But despite concerns about the environmental and financial impact of driving, the main issues affecting vehicle choices haven’t changed. Price is still the major deciding factor, ahead of model, mileage and age. 

New car slump

New car sales are expected to take a hit though, with 16% of drivers admitting they would consider buying used, rather than new, next time around.

“During the last serious economic downturn in the early 1990s, used car volumes held up much better than new car volumes, which slumped by well over half a million units,” said professor Peter Cooke, author of the BCA report.

“The economic downturn might encourage more traditional new-car buyers to either trade down to a smaller new car or buy a quality used car instead of a new one.”