D-day for diesel?


  • Desire for diesel cars has dropped from 23% in 2014 to 18% in 2016, according to new research by AA Cars, the used car website*
  • Meanwhile, car buyers are warming up to alternative fuels with purchasing intentions for electric and hybrid vehicles doubling over the same period
  • Extra 3.6 million alternatively powered vehicles predicted on UK roads in next few years**
  • Publicly-available electric charging points have increased by 29.5% over the past 12 months***

UK drivers are slowly falling out of love with diesel cars as new research shows a significant drop in buying intentions in the past three years. Meanwhile, the appetite for hybrid and electric vehicles has doubled since 2014, according to AA Cars, the used car website.

The desire for diesels amongst UK drivers has fallen last year, under two in ten (18%) intended to buy a diesel as their next car – down from nearly a quarter (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 (from 6% 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.****

Car buyers in London, which boasts 11.6% of the nation’s public charging point connectors, were by far the most likely (19%) to think of low emission vehicles when buying their next car – while less than one in ten (9%) of drivers in the capital thought that their next car would be a diesel.

Over the past year, electric vehicle charging locations in the UK have increased by 19.8% to 4,300. The number of charging points has also increased by 29.5% over the last year, which means there are now 12,237 publically available connectors.

Simon Benson, Director of Motoring Services at AA Cars, says: “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 £35 million 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.”

Notes to Editors:

* Populus interviewed 17,979 AA members on the AA-Populus online panel between 13th and 20th December 2016. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

** Respondents were asked: ‘Which fuel do expect your next car to use?’ 12% said ‘hybrid’, ‘plug-in hybrid’ and ‘pure electric’. There are 30m licensed vehicles for use on roads in GB (AA research) – 12% of 30m is 3.6m

*** Source: Zap Map

**** Source: AA Cars

Distributed by:

Guy Smith, Rhizome Media
T 020 7297 3165 | E: guy@rhizomemedia.co

David Keevill, Rhizome Media

T 020 8004 5984 | M 07747 195354 | E david@rhizomemedia.co



We were duped by diesel with the British government encouraging its use with low taxation based on the low proportion of carbon dioxide relative to petrol engines. This is changing now, with the new flat-rate tax of £140 in force from April 2017. Nitrogen dioxide is the other issue especially with larger engines combined with Diesel-gate – a reference to Volkswagen’s emissions scandal. I own two diesel estates that generate around 55-60 mpg. Their respective engines at times have to be run in fourth gear to clear carbon from the particulate filters but they have done what they were bought to do although they are still for sale!

March 2017