British drivers do not understand greener motoring.

That's according to research on behalf of Honda (UK), coinciding with the launch of the Civic hybrid sedan, that questioned 1,200 British drivers on their attitudes towards the environment and their understanding of alternative fuel vehicles.

More than half (51%) of British motorists were not even aware of hybrid cars. Of the drivers who said they knew of hybrids, more than 40% didn't know that it was a car that uses both petrol and electric power. Incorrect responses ranged from the intelligent guess ("a car that uses a combination of fuels") to the bizarre ("two cars welded together" or "a car made by more than one manufacturer").

The research also asked people to name a type of alternative fuel vehicle and a huge 82% failed to mention the petrol-electric hybrid car. Despite the fact hybrids are as easy to use and refuel as a standard petrol car, people were more likely to quote LPG (far more complex for a day-to-day motorist) or fully electric cars (impractical because of the frequent need to stop and recharge).

People were even less aware of the potential cost savings of owning a hybrid car. Only 35% of those surveyed correctly associated hybrids with lower fuel costs. Very few knew that hybrids entitled the owner to reduced company car tax (4%), lower road fund tax (2%) and the 100% discount from the London congestion charge (2%).

The irony is that the research shows British drivers are more likely to be motivated by money rather than by environmental responsibility. When the 73% who said they were unlikely to buy a hybrid were asked what would make them consider one, the top factor (43%) was "if I was sure running costs would be lower" followed by "if petrol became too expensive" (34%). This substantiates the number one reason for rejecting a hybrid: "too expensive" (34%).

Similarly, of the 18% who would consider a hybrid car, the top motivating factor was lower fuel costs (54%) rather than environmental benefits (39%).

When asked who should be responsible for encouraging better take up of greener vehicles, 70% suggested the government or car manufacturers (35% each).

Further confirming the 'head in the sand' attitude, less than a fifth (17%) of drivers saw it as their own responsibility to lessen the environmental impact of their vehicles.

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