Fuel efficiency drives car sales surge

Britons are cutting their motoring costs by investing in fuel-efficient cars with lower emissions. The number of alternatively-fuelled vehicles – including hybrids such as the Toyota Prius and the Vauxhall Ampera – bought in the first six months of this year shot up by 51.3% on the same period in 2013. http://moneysupermarket-3.wistia.com/medias/8wlasfsukl?embedType=seo&videoFoam=true&videoWidth=600 And according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), registrations of pure-electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf have more than doubled – rocketing an incredible 143.9% year on year. Let’s take a closer look at what those figures mean…

Exhaustive detail

The SMMT figures reveal that the average new car bought between April and June this year has CO2 emissions of 125.8g/km, down from134.6g/km at the start of 2012. That means typical new car emissions in the UK are heading in the right direction to meet a European Union CO2 target of 95g/km by 2020. We’re still not as eco as some of our European neighbours, though.

Going Dutch

In the Netherlands, for example, the average new car bought in 2013 had CO2 emissions of just 109g/km, while in Greece and Portugal typical new cars put out 111g/km of CO2. And even if we all switch to fuel-efficient vehicles, we still need to make some big changes to the way we get around to have any real impact on the environment. Hans Bruyninckx, executive director of the European Environment Agency, said: “Passenger transport still generates a significant part of total greenhouse gas emissions in the EU so we need to think about more sustainable transport systems – the car cannot solve all our problems in the 21st century.” The government recently announced that a £5 million Clean Vehicle Technology Fund has been made available to 17 local councils to pay for green technology to be fitted to 1,080 buses, fire engines, ambulances and taxis.

Pump down the volume

Cars with lower CO2 emissions not only benefit the environment, they also mean significant savings for drivers. In fact, lower running costs is probably one of the main reasons Britons are steering clear of heavily polluting vehicles in favour of cleaner, greener ones The average new car registered so far this year does 57.4 miles to the gallon, compared to 54.5 for those bought in the first three months of 2012. According to the SMMT, a typical new family car today is some 27% more fuel-efficient than one built just seven years ago.

Fuel speed ahead

The total number of new cars registered in the first half of 2014 is 1,287,265, up 10.6% on last year. The growing appetite for fuel-efficient cars is clearly driving this statistic. Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “Improving economic conditions have helped the strong first half-year performance. “But key to attracting consumers is the ever-improving efficiency of new cars, an important factor that is highlighted by the 51.3% increase in alternatively-fuelled vehicle registrations so far this year.”

Charge of the Leaf brigade

Pure electric cars have also become much more popular. Some 1,200 Nissan Leafs were sold in Europe in August alone.
nissan leaf hatchback
And in the US, more than 3,000 Leafs were sold in the same period – an increase of 31.7% on August 2013. Nissan's Brendan Jones thinks the car’s success is down to word-of-mouth: “It's what we call the 'cul-de-sac phenomenon.’ Once someone in a community buys a Leaf, friends, family, co-workers and neighbours see the benefits and are sold on the idea of going electric," he said. Over to you - would you trade down to a fuel-efficient motor, or get a hybrid or electric, to save on running costs? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter using the hashtag #FocusonFuel

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