Blog: Dave Leggett'Going green'

Dave Leggett | 3 July 2008

I have just been reading Dealer Update (a UK automotive retail sector publication produced by Trader Media/Auto Trader group). Through Auto Trader's UK website they carried out a survey on attitudes of retail buyers to green cars and issues. The survey results reinforce what the cynics say.

Most people, it seems, don't want to pay extra to be good to the environment. In choosing a car, price is by far the most important consideration. It was the most important single feature for a car for 86% of respondents and that's followed by performance and safety. Ranked low are things like low environmental impact in materials used or a 'clean' factory where the car came from.

But here's the thing. Small cars are booming in Britain; interest in electric cars and hybrids has never been higher. And it's got very little to do with people wanting to be green. It's got everything to do with rising taxes on motoring, a general squeeze on household incomes and skyrocketing pump prices. 'Being green' and good to the environment gets a little easier when it also saves you money. Conscience and wallet pulling harmoniously in the same direction. Grrreat. 

And that's where the government here could face a slight problem with renewable energy for national power generation. To be effective, wind farms require heavy investment and are simply much more expensive as generators of energy - on current plans - than some of the dirtier alternatives we employ now. If we want to go down that renewables road it will cost more. That could be a very tough sell to a hard-pressed British public in a few years time (before the next general election energy policy is certain to be a major issue).

And if power generation stays unclean that will also mean your G-Wiz 2.0 is actually not all that good for the environment at all. The jokes may long since have stopped though if it has become a lot cheaper to run than a VW Polo on fossil fuels.

GERMANY: Consumers ready to buy hybrid and electric cars


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