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A third of car buyers delay purchase over fuel choice confusion

Volvo XC90 SUV plug in hybrid

A third of car buyers do not know whether to opt for a petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric vehicle (EV) amid a fuel type confusion headache which is causing many to put off their next purchase.

That is the finding of new research conducted among 2,000 motorists by Opinium survey on behalf of, which also revealed that drivers aged between 18 and 34 are even more undecided, with 41% saying they are unsure what type of fuel-powered car to go for.

Almost a third of surveyed motorists (31%), meanwhile, revealed that they are keeping their current car for longer than usual as a result of the uncertainty.

The findings follow calls from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) to clarify government policy around ultra-low emission zones and the taxing of internal combustion engine (ICE) and alternative fuel vehicles (AFV).

Last week former Chancellor Sajid Javid seemed to suggest that the plug-in car grant (PCIG) would be retained in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, but many are waiting for next month’s Budget for the answers.

Commenting on the findings of its recently commissioned survey InsuretheGap chief operating officer, Ben Wooltorton, said: “From 2035 or sooner, drivers will only be able to buy electric or hydrogen cars, however, looking at the results of this survey this looks like a big leap of faith for many consumers who are clearly unsure about what type of car they should be buying.

“You can understand why people are feeling insecure as we were told not long ago that we should all buy diesel, and now diesel is being banned.

“It seems that many drivers need greater confidence that the issues around running an electric car are resolved before they will commit.”

While Government is yet to determine what its road to an all-out ban on ICE vehicles by 2035 will mean to petrol, diesel and hybrid car drivers, the uncertainty among car buyers has underlined the need for car retailers to properly advise car buyers on acquiring the best vehicle to suit their needs.

The National Franchised Dealers Association’s (NFDA) Electric Vehicle Approved Programme (EVA) has sought to ensure that the sector is well-equipped to do just that.

For now, InsuretheGap’s survey found that nearly three-fifths of drivers (57%) still feel that the issues around running an EV are too daunting to make them buy one (men 54% v women 59%). 

It also appears that drivers have not totally fallen out of love with diesel as almost three in ten (29%) said that they would still buy a diesel car (men 34% and women 25%).

Over 55s (26%) are the least likely to buy a diesel car compared to 18 – 34s (34%) and 35 – 54s (32%), it found.

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