By Daniel Hunter

A new survey by What Car?, researching motorists’ attitudes towards the environmental impact of car ownership in the UK, found that almost 40% of respondents would consider offsetting the emissions of their vehicle, 10% more than would buy a hybrid or electric alternative.

In addition, the costs of offsetting carbon emissions of a typical family car were overestimated by 300% by respondents to the survey.

Nearly 1,500 motorists were asked a series of questions around concerns for the environment and steps UK car owners take to reduce their environmental impact.

Asked ‘when purchasing your next vehicle, which cars would you consider purchasing?’ 38% responded with “a carbon offset vehicle”. And when asked ‘how much would you be prepared to pay to make a vehicle carbon neutral for a year?’ the average answer was £47 — as much as 300% more than the actual cost of offsetting the emissions of a typical family runabout.

The survey was conducted by What Car?, in association with CNI UK Limited (CNI), by contacting members of its 3,000-strong ‘Motoring Panel’. Haymarket’s Motoring Panel is a research community of UK motorists recruited by the publishers’ automotive brands What Car?, Autocar and PistonHeads — 1,454 completed this survey into motoring and the environment.

Questioned further, the Motoring Panel illustrated again the exaggerated presumed costs of carbon offsetting, with the ‘imagined cost’ of making a Ford Fiesta 1.6 Duratec carbon neutral for one year/10,000miles averaging £68 by respondents, when the actual cost is approximately £10.

The survey also illustrates that consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with environmental performance and the costs of poor performance, with nearly 60% stating vehicle efficiencies strongly influence their purchase decision.

“The results show there is a great desire amongst motorists to minimise their environmental impact without reducing the range of available new vehicle choices down to just hybrid or electric cars," CNI managing director, Edward Carlton, said.

"There is clearly an education job to be done by companies like CNI as the perception of costs associated with carbon neutrality is significantly higher than the reality, which means, in many cases, the motorist can reduce environmental impact, drive the vehicle they desire and not spend a fortune achieving this happy balance — which is good news all ‘round.”

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