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Car buyers dumping diesel cars for petrol models

Huge turnaround as buyers now favour petrol cars after mass migration to diesel power in previous decade

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UK car buyers are turning their backs on diesel-powered cars in favour of petrol models, new research suggests.

The changing mood is revealed in a survey by What Car?, which indicates that more than seven in 10 people would be likely or very likely to choose petrol power for their next car, compared with four in 10 who would consider buying a diesel.

In recent years, diesel car sales have matched or even exceeded petrol sales; in 2014 and 2015, diesel models represented 50.1% and 48.5% of the market respectively.

With engine performance and good fuel consumption still rated as the two most important factors by car buyers, the shift from diesel to petrol appears to have more to do with running costs than concerns about the environment following last year's Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal.

More than 84% of the people surveyed said they wore worried about possible legislation changes that may affect the cost of ownership of diesel cars in the future, such as the retail price, fuel duty and vehicle road tax.

The research also shows that hybrids and electric cars remain even less tempting for prospective car buyers, with between 12% and 32% of people considering hybrid vehicles, and more than 48% of buyers saying they would be very unlikely to consider an electric car. This backs up the suggestion that buyers are less concerned about being green.

What Car? editor, Steve Huntingford, said:"There appears to have been a dramatic shift in the petrol and diesel sales seesaw. In the 2000s, legislation changes resulted in a diesel boom, but following the emergence of extremely efficient downsized petrol engines, the tide appears to have turned.

"Buyers don't appear to be overly concerned about environmental factors. The choice of car is usually determined by the financial aspects of the purchase; if buyers fear a diesel crackdown and petrol engines are cheaper to buy while being almost as efficient, it’s easy to understand the changes taking place."

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