Drivers 'unaware of emission levels'

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The Independent Online

Nearly three in four drivers do not know how much carbon dioxide their car emits, it was revealed today.

Yet when buying a new vehicle, 89% of consumers want environmental features brought to their attention, a survey by the Energy Saving Trust (EST) found. Nearly half (48%) are considering replacing their car in the next year, the poll of 1,511 UK drivers showed. Half said they would drive more efficiently if they had more "green" information, while 51% of those shows a list of popular cars had no idea which was the least polluting.

Fuel efficiency came third behind price and style/look as the thing that grabbed consumers' attention in car advertisements. The poll also revealed that 51% take their car on journeys of less than one mile and 71% for trips of less than 1.5 miles.

EST said that if everyone who bought a new car chose the greenest car in its class, a typical motorist could save £375 a year in fuel costs, or nearly £1 billion for all UK motorists. The survey backed up a report of the car market for the last four decades by EST which found that car buyers were making poor choices both economically and environmentally when it came to purchasing new vehicles.

The report pointed to "a market failure" in which more-desirable cars within vehicle model ranges tend to have higher CO2 emissions and where there was a "lack of awareness and advice" about emission-saving. The EST said car companies and dealers must do more to publicise the CO2 emissions of cars they sell.

EST chief executive Philip Sellwood said: "The bottom line is that, at the moment, the car market is failing: there is no good reason why at a time of rising fuel prices and higher vehicle excise duties for higher CO2 vehicles, people are continuing to buy inefficient cars. It's not good for the environment or the pockets of customers. While car manufacturers are starting to place CO2 information more prominently in their advertising, this is only helpful up to a certain point."