The UK’s Car Purchasing Motivations
With eco-consciousness on the rise and the number of electric and hybrid cars on UK roads increasing, which factors are the most important to motorists when buying a new car? And how will these preferences change as electric and hybrid cars become more popular?
To find out, we have carried out research which reveals the top motivations for motorists when making the switch.
Are more motorists considering switching to electric and hybrid cars?
Our survey highlights that there will be an overall reduction in petrol and diesel cars (-29% and -14% respectively), with more motorists switching to hybrid and electric when choosing their next car (32% and 27% respectively). Currently, two-thirds (66%) of cars on British roads are petrol-fuelled, while just 10% of cars are electric or hybrid.
The research also shows that the main motivations motorists have for switching to electric or hybrid vehicles include:
- Reducing emissions (54%)
- Awareness of the government's plan to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030 (54%)
- Electric and hybrid cars being quieter (19%).
But many motorists are hesitant to make the move to a hybrid or electric vehicle, with over half (53%) saying they’re too expensive, and 39% saying they’re concerned about sufficient access to charging points in their area.
Where are motorists most keen to buy a hybrid or electric vehicle?
According to our survey, 55% of drivers in Plymouth are considering buying a hybrid vehicle as their next car, despite 67% of current cars in the city being petrol-fuelled. This makes it the city where drivers are most motivated to drive green. In second place is Bristol, where 44% say they’re considering buying a hybrid vehicle.
When it comes to fully electric vehicles, 39% of London's drivers are inclined to swap, followed by 34% of drivers in Nottingham and 32% in Sheffield.
What are motorists’ top reasons for buying an electric or hybrid vehicle?
We looked at the top ten cities where drivers are most unanimous in their motivations for buying or already owning an electric or hybrid vehicle.
Nearly three quarters (74%) of car owners in Edinburgh agree that reducing carbon emissions is the top reason for buying an electric or hybrid vehicle. Bristol drivers are most impacted by the government's plan to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030 with (67%) saying this is the reason for considering making the switch to an electric or hybrid vehicle.
The table below shows the top ten cities where drivers are most unanimous in their motivations for buying or for already owning an electric or hybrid vehicle.
|City||Top motivation to buy an electric or hybrid vehicle||Percentage|
|Edinburgh||To reduce my carbon emissions||74%|
|Bristol||I'm aware of the government's plan to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030||64%|
|Leeds||To save on the cost of fuel||64%|
|Liverpool||To save on the cost of fuel||64%|
|Cardiff||To reduce my carbon emissions||64%|
|Brighton||To reduce my carbon emissions||63%|
|Sheffield||To save on the cost of fuel||63%|
|Newcastle||I'm aware of the government's plan to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030||63%|
|Plymouth||To reduce my carbon emissions||63%|
|Southampton||To save on the cost of fuel||63%|
What types of cars are most common on UK roads?
We also asked motorists which car brand, colour, fuel type and transmission type they currently drive.
Ford is by far the most popular car brand, with 17% of cars currently on UK roads made by the company. Drivers in Newcastle, however, appear to prefer Nissan with 17% of cars there made by this manufacturer, while Plymouth drivers own mainly Peugeots (18%).
|City||Most popular car brand||Most popular car brand %||Most popular car colour||Most popular car colour %||Most popular fuel||Most popular fuel %|
|Belfast||Ford||18%||White & grey||20%||Diesel||51%|
|Leeds||Ford||18%||Black & blue||20%||Petrol||64%|
|Plymouth||Peugeot||18%||Blue & grey||20%||Petrol||67%|
|Sheffield||Ford||27%||Silver & grey||21%||Petrol||69%|
The survey also reveals that 23% of drivers own a black car, with blue vehicles making up 19% of cars on British roads. Of all cities analysed, Edinburgh drivers love black cars the most with 29% saying they have a car this colour.
Petrol is by far the most common fuel type for British car owners. Belfast is the exception, with over half (51%) of drivers saying they currently have a diesel vehicle.
What factors are most important to motorists when buying their next car?
When looking at motorists’ overall priorities when buying their next car, saving on the cost of fuel is the main motivation (54%).
Getting a good number of miles per gallon is also important for motorists, with 47% saying that this is a main factor for them when considering a new vehicle. Whether the car is ‘eco-friendly’ is also one of top reasons, indicating that motorists are becoming more environmentally conscious.
These are the most important factors for motorists when buying their next car.
Top tips on finding the right car for you
- What will you use your car for? – Consider which car will work best for your particular travel needs, whether you’re planning to use it mainly for leisure, the school pick-up, shopping or travelling to work.
- Be clear about your preferences - Whether you want to be a greener driver or save on car insurance, it’s important to have a clear idea of exactly what you want your new car to provide.
- Be aware of how your car choice affects insurance - The type of car you choose can impact the cost of your car insurance, with more expensive, more powerful cars generally costing more to insure.
- The survey data collected in this study was based on a survey of 2,013 UK drivers aged 17 and above, which took place in August 2022.