Do we care about the environment?

* What's your verdict? * Do you care about cost or the planet? * How has the recession changed opinions?...

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What Car? Staff
25 October 2010

Do we care about the environment?

So, what do you really think about cars and the environment. It's one of the most pressing issues facing buyers today, so we asked you for your opinion. Here are the results.

Do you care?
We could start and end with a simple 'yes'. When we asked if a car's environmental credentials are important to you, 32% said they are very important, 36% said a little and just 32% said not at all.

It's not quite as simple as that, though. When we've asked what the most important considerations are when you're looking at buying a new car, the environment has come last.

It's easy to say the environment matters, but when it comes to the crunch, it quickly falls down the list of priorities. Price, image, equipment and value for money all push green issues into last spot, and the environment appears to have lost even more ground through the recession.

Money, money, money
Back in 2006, just 12% of you said green issues were a top priority, but this fell to 5% by September this year.

In 2006 four-in-ten said they'd also pay more for greener fuel and cars, although three quarters also said the Government should hand out cash to help fund them.

In 2008, 46% said they'd choose a greener car next time around, but this was only to save money. Less than 20% said the decision would be driven by the desire to save the environment.

Fast forward again, to 2009, and 69% said saving cash was now the most important thing while just 13% put saving the planet as their top priority. By now 88% of you said greener cars shouldn't be more expensive.

If saving money is the goal, it's interesting to note that 62% of you think your car is operating at its most efficient between 50mph and 60mph. Our investigation proves the idea of 56mph fuel economy isn't the case and that consumption increases with speed.

The future
Visitors to are pretty practical, and honest, about how doing the right thing by the environment is fine, but that taking care of your pocket is even more important.

How optimistic are you about the prospects for new car technologies, such as fuel cells and electric vehicles, that are being developed?

In a recent poll we asked what will drive the cars of the next 30 years. Petrol/diesel engine technology and hybrid systems won just over a quarter of the votes each, while fuel cells came out top at 35%. Just 12% said our cars would be electric.

We drilled down into this a little more and asked when you thought you'd own a fully-electric car just 6% said within five years. One in five thought it could be within a decade, but 43% said it would be more than 10 years and 30% of you said it would never happen.

We've got a poll running on the homepage of now so you can tell us why this might be.