AA/Populus Panel

Green Survey

3 July 2008

More than ninety per cent of AA members would consider taking measures to reduce the overall environmental impact of their cars, according to an AA/Populus Panel poll of 17,481 AA members.1

These results and details of what is most important to car buyers when purchasing a car were presented to the Board of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) today (03/07) by the AA president.

The AA/Populus Panel is the biggest dedicated motoring panel in the UK and now has more than 30,000 motorists signed up to take part.

Reducing environmental impact

Polling prior to the cost of diesel reaching £6 per gallon suggested that the most popular action would be to buy a more fuel efficient car. The most popular actions drivers would consider taking personally to reduce the overall environmental impact of cars were:

  1. Buying a more fuel efficient car – 62%
  2. Eco-driving i.e. sticking to speed limits – 60%
  3. Taking advantage of discounts to buy smaller/greener cars – 51%
  4. Cutting out short journeys by car – 48%
  5. Buying a hybrid/electric or alternative fuel car – 32%
  6. Taking up a Govt incentive scheme to scrap older cars if available – 28%
  7. Giving up car all together – 3%
  8. None of these – 7%

Younger drivers were most likely to consider cutting out short journeys and were keener on incentive schemes to scrap older cars.

The over 65s and females were most likely to say they would consider following eco driving tips whilst the youngest drivers and males were least likely to do so.

Interestingly the over 65s were least likely to consider giving up their car due to the environmental impact although other factors such as health and age means that in reality these drivers are the first to hang up their car keys.

Choosing a new car

When it came to factors that had the greatest influence on decisions when choosing a replacement car apart from price and size, the findings were:

  1. Reliability – 36%
  2. Fuel economy – 28%
  3. Safety – 16%
  4. Style – 10%
  5. Performance – 7%
  6. Carbon dioxide emissions – 3%
  7. Optional extras – 1%
  8. None of these – 7%

It is telling that significantly more drivers choose fuel economy rather than carbon dioxide emissions and perhaps suggests that particularly in periods of record prices at the pumps it would be more effective if environmental campaigns highlighted potential savings in MPG (Miles Per Gallon), rather than CO2.

Female drivers were much more likely to choose safety than male drivers (22% against 13%). Male drivers and younger drivers were more likely to opt for style or performance compared to females or older drivers.

AA comment

Commenting, Edmund King, AA president said: "Drivers are often portrayed as Mr Toad but our panel results show that the vast majority of motorists do care about the environment and will consider taking steps to reduce the environmental impact of their cars. A majority of AA members said that the AA should be campaigning to reduce the environmental impact of cars.

"The motor industry has done much to improve the environmental performance of new cars over the last few years and our poll shows that drivers put 'buying a more fuel efficient car' top of their green priorities.

"The Government should take note of these green intentions and scrap retrospective VED plans which would penalise drivers for the car they already own."

Regional results

  • Drivers in the North East and Northern Ireland were most likely to consider buying a more fuel efficient car (67%).
  • London motorists were least likely to take up eco-driving.
  • Drivers in the North West and South were most likely to cut out short journeys (50%).
  • Motorists in Wales and London were most likely to consider a hybrid car.
  • Motorists in the North East were least likely to give up their car (just 1%).
  • Members in the East Midlands were most likely to consider fuel economy when buying a car (32%).
  • 18-24 year olds were least likely to consider carbon dioxide emissions when buying a car.
  • Drivers in Scotland and the North West were most likey to consider safety when buying a new car.
  • Drivers aged 45 -54 were most likely to choose fuel economy.


1 AA/Populus panel of 17,481 AA members conducted between 14 March - 9 April 2008

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3 July 2008