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Fuel prices drive change in buying habits

High fuel prices are prompting European motorists to change their driving habits and consider buying cars with less powerful engines as a way to cut down on costs.

In a poll by Maritz Research, more than 60% of 1,240 people surveyed in Britain, France and Germany this month either agreed or strongly agreed that they "drive more conservatively" and had reduced non-essential trips.

Just over 11% had moved or switched jobs to be closer to work, according to the survey of new car owners.

Switching to ride-sharing or car-pooling was still relatively rare, but people were taking more care that their vehicles are in top working order to save on fuel.

More than half of respondents said fuel prices would have an impact when deciding what size of vehicle to buy in the future, and nearly 30% said they had thought about buying or had actually bought a smaller car.

Just over 56% said they had thought about buying or bought a more economical engine.

Europeans are used to high prices because of relatively steep taxes on fuel, which have promoted the use of energy-efficient cars and engines. But car companies have noticed a trend towards less powerful engines at a time of near-record fuel prices.

In Germany, Europe's biggest car market, super unleaded petrol cost 1.35 euros (93 pence) per litre - including 82 cents of tax - and diesel cost 1.14 euros on average as of June 12, energy analysts EID in Hamburg said.

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