Safety (23%) was cited as the most influential factor in a purchase. Fuel economy was second on the list with 18%. High performance held just 3.8% of the vote.
The survey, conducted by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, also found younger drivers (17-27) were most likely to specify a car with lower emissions, but also wanted a car with high performance.
However, 25% of the over 55’s said fuel economy was the most important influence on their decision.
Women gave safety a higher priority than men – 26% of women compared with 28% of men; but there was no difference between the sexes on fuel efficiency, with 18% of women and men putting this at the top of their list.
Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Not everyone can switch to a hybrid or electric vehicle, but every motorist can do their bit for the environment by looking for the ‘best in class’ when they choose their next car.
“Safety has risen up the consumer agenda thanks to the Euro NCAP testing programme and grading system.”
King also said the green eco-labelling system, which was introduced last year, has been a big step in the right direction for rasing the customer’s concerns over fuel economy.
#AM_ART_SPLIT# The RAC Foundation’s top tips for greener driving:
1. Plan your journey carefully to avoid congestion, roadworks and getting lost.
2. Check your tyre pressure regularly; under inflated tyres wear out more quickly and can increase fuel consumption by up to 3%.
3. Drive defensively – avoiding harsh acceleration and heavy braking where possible. Pulling away too fast uses up to 60% more fuel.
4. Use the gearbox efficiently – changing gear at a more modest engine speed can reduce fuel consumption by up to 15%.
5. Drive off immediately when starting from cold – idling to heat the engine wastes fuel and causes rapid engine wear.
6. Avoid short journeys – a cold engine uses almost twice as much fuel, while catalytic converters can take five miles to become effective. Take a walk in the fresh air to the local shops instead.
7. Stick to speed limits and make your fuel go further – driving at 70mph uses up to 30% more fuel than at 50mph.
8. If you are stuck in a jam, switch off – turning off the engine after two minutes will save fuels and cut all emissions.