Now even a used car dealer is forecasting that more motorists will go ‘green’. This despite the fact that it carried out a survey last year that found environmental considerations barely registered as a factor in purchase decisions.

A 2006 British Car Auctions (BCA) survey found that only 2% of motorists cited environmental considerations as being important when they chose their current car. But BCA now predicts that the environment, particularly fuel efficiency and consumption, tax boundaries and congestion, will be key in the decision process for 2007. It says that “war on gas guzzling vehicles has been gaining momentum, with local councils announcing plans to increase costs of ownership”. However, this is going to be a big change from previous years.

BCA analysed the purchasing patterns of used car buyers in the UK for its 2006 used car market report and found that those in the AB social group were the most environmentally aware.  But they were still only 2% above the national average – with 4% saying they consider the environment when choosing a car.

Regionally, the most environmentally aware motorists appeared to be in the north, where 6% cited environmental considerations as important, followed by the south-east at 4%.  Used car buyers in the south west, East Anglia, the Midlands and north west were the least environmentally friendly with just 1% rating it as important in each region.

“Environmental targets, such as the one announced in the queen’s speech [to parliament] last year, will only be achieved with the support of the motorist,” said BCA’s communications director Tony Gannon.  “But, as the findings from our report show, environmental concerns are low on the used car buyer’s agenda.

“It is also interesting that our survey showed that Londoners matched the figure for the national average at 2%.  Will London car buyers change their attitudes since mayor  Ken Livingstone, announced congestion charge hikes for gas guzzling vehicles and Richmond council is planning to increase parking charges for 4x4s [SUVs]?”

Gas-guzzling vehicles such as 4x4s and some larger family cars are in UK car tax band G, because they emit over 225g of CO2 per kilometre. This type of vehicle will soon be subject to a GBP25 per day congestion charge in London compared to the usual daily rate of GBP8. If the scheme is successful in the capital, other authorities could well adopt it.