Low-CO2 cars are now the norm for UK buyers

30 April 2010

Toyota Prius Mk3The rising cost of fuel is encouraging more UK motorists to choose hybrids and low-CO2 cars, according to the latest statistics from the Department for Transport.

The market for new cars has fallen steeply since 2007, when 2.4 million cars where registered for the first time, to just under 2 million sales in 2009 – a figure propped up substantially by the recently-closed scrappage scheme. But while overall sales fell by around 18 per cent in the past two years, sales of hybrids declined by only half as much – about nine percent – from 16,000 in 2007 to 14,000 last year. The sales figures are still small – less than one percent of the overall market – but the hybrid proportion of the total is nonetheless heading upward. At the end of last year, the UK’s total hybrid fleet stood at around 61,000 vehicles.

Assuming the country ever climbs out of the financial doldrums, it will be interesting to see how hybrid sales respond when the feel-good factor returns to the economy.

New car sales by emissions bracket paint an even clearer picture of increasing parsimony. Sales of new cars with a CO2 rating below 150g/km accounted for a whopping 60 per cent of UK sales in 2009, up from just 39 per cent in 2007. Cars with a rating of 100g/km or less, which qualify for a free tax disc as well as less frequent visits to a pricey petrol pump, accounted for 18,000 sales last year, up from just 3,000 in 2008 – the first year when you could actually expect to buy such a frugal car from a mainstream dealer.

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