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Toxic emissions a now key part of car buying

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Toxic emission levels are becoming an important part of the car selection process for consumers, according to new research from AA Cars which shows a 15-fold increase over the last ten months, but the data suggests it’s still out-ranked by running costs.


Drivers are still prioritising cost over pollution, according to the AA Cars data.

The AA-Populus poll, conducted in January, asked 17,000 UK drivers which three factors were most important to them when selecting a car.

Toxic emission levels – which AA Cars said comprises anything covered by the Euro standards – was selected by 15% of respondents during this year’s poll. That compares to 1% of respondents when the same question was posed last April.

However, it’s still not as high a priority as CO2 emissions, which (unlike toxic emissions) underpin vehicle taxation and have a bigger effect on day-to-day running costs. Of the drivers surveyed, 26% said low CO2 emissions were an important consideration.

Interestingly, despite the rising interest in environmental aspects, neither are the most important criteria for drivers. Comfort remains the highest priority, at 49% of respondents, followed by safety at 48%. The latter was slightly higher among women (56%) than men (43%).

Simon Benson, director of motoring services at AA Cars, says: “While this overall shift to a greener mindset is to be applauded, some clarity from the government around emitting vehicles would be welcomed. Many hoped this would be cleared up in last year’s Budget announcement but sadly millions of car owners were left scratching their heads as to what this all means for them and their vehicles.”

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Alex Grant

Trained on Cardiff University’s renowned Postgraduate Diploma in Motor Magazine Journalism, Alex is an award-winning motoring journalist with ten years’ experience across B2B and consumer titles. A life-long car enthusiast with a fascination for new technology and future drivetrains, he joined Fleet World in April 2011, contributing across the magazine and website portfolio and editing the EV Fleet World Website.