Reports on the negative effects of diesel emissions have put 61% of consumers off buying a vehicle powered by the fuel, according to research carried out by Carbuyer.co.uk.
While 33% said they’d been unaffected by the negative stories and 6% said they weren’t aware of any news, Carbuyer’s data suggests that motorists are turning away from diesel power.
And research into Google search trends also revealed a 127% increase in users looking for hybrid cars in the first three months of 2017, compared to the same period last year, while searches for diesel cars have grown by just 9%.
Carbuyer said that its findings echoed a trend highlighted by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), showing diesel sales are down 9.2% in February 2017 compared with February 2016.
Sales of alternative-fuel vehicles such as hybrids and battery-powered cars, meanwhile, were up 48.9% over the same period.
Carbuyer editor, Stuart Milne, said: “Our poll and the SMMT’s sales data both suggest diesel’s unpopularity could well grow in the coming months.
“While diesel can still be a cost-effective choice for high-mileage motorists and those running larger cars, we regularly advise buyers that modern petrol, hybrid and plug-in vehicles can be a better option for shorter trips and urban motoring in particular.”
Recent months have seen an increased focus on diesel in the media.
Diesel-car owners are being charged more to park in certain parts of London and the capital’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has proposed a diesel scrappage scheme.
Diesel cars surged from making up around 10% of the new car market in the nineties to just under 50% today – in part thanks to tax incentives and a perception of diesel as being greener than petrol.
Since 2001, the UK’s road-tax system has incentivised the purchase of cars with low CO2 output, but a new system coming into force on 1 April sees cars emitting any amount of CO2 liable for at least a £140 annual charge. Only zero-emissions vehicles, such as electric cars, will escape.
Diesel exhaust fumes are now being recognised as posing a significant threat to human health, linked to everything from cancer and heart problems, to lung conditions such as asthma and bronchitis.