57per cent of people surveyed declare fuel consumption as one of their most important factors when considering their next vehicle purchase.

The study, commissioned by used car marketplace CarGurus, found that owners are using their current cars less, prioritising fuel-efficient models more heavily when shopping for a new car, and contemplating purchasing EVs in greater numbers than before.

Fuel consumption (57%) relegates reliability (55%) to second on the list of buyers’ concerns, ahead of road tax (25%), which has climbed from sixth to become Brits’ third most significant consideration as the cost of living continues to increase. Design/style and passenger/luggage capacity have slipped from third and fourth to fifth and sixth respectively.

When comtemplating which factors would be most likely to push them toward a more eco-friendly or fuel-efficient car, nearly half (43%) cited increased fuel prices, with almost a third (31%) referencing the fight against climate change.

Respondents also reported that increased fuel prices have caused them to shift how they use their cars. Nearly half (47%) said they were avoiding unnecessary car journeys, with 37% choosing to walk more often, 18% using public transport and 12% cycling.

UK car owners to be driving an average of 17.8 miles fewer per week than they were prior to the fuel price rises, the equivalent of removing 564 million miles-worth of journeys or 86,809 cars’ from the UK’s roads.

When it came to swapping their combustion-powered car for an EV, nearly a quarter of respondents (22%) said that they had started considering purchasing an electric vehicle since the recent fuel price rises.

With over half (51%) of UK drivers now contemplating the switch in total, factors such as cost, lack of public charging infrastructure, lack of domestic charging infrastructure, and range anxiety remained key in dissuading them that the time was right to do so.

Over three quarters (67%) of those who are considering purchasing an EV said that fuel price rises had brought forward the date by which they thought they’d own an electric vehicle, with nearly a fifth (18%) saying they now saw themselves driving an EV up to three years sooner than they otherwise might have done.

CarGurus’ Fuel-Saving Tips

While changing cars to a more fuel-efficient model isn’t an option that’s open to all motorists, there are some things that any driver can do to help optimise the economy of their current vehicle.

•   Remove unnecessary weight from your car: Whether it’s removing clutter from the boot, or emptying old CDs from the glovebox, taking unnecessary weight out of your car will help to maximise mpg.
•   Take off that roof rack: A roof rack or bike rack can play havoc with a car’s aerodynamic performance. If they’re not in use, remove them.
•   Driving smoothy: Hard acceleration burns more fuel, so aim to keep inputs smooth. By anticipating what’s ahead you’ll also be able to minimise fuel-sapping changes of speed.
•   Plan your air-conditioning: A car’s air-conditioning system puts more strain on its engine. At low speeds, try switching off your car’s air-conditioning and open the windows or sunroof instead. Turn it back on above 20-30mph, where the excess wind resistance caused by an open window can start to use more fuel than running the air-con.
•   Feel the (tyre) pressure: Check your car’s tyre pressures match up to the manufacturer’s recommendations (you can find them in the car’s handbook or printed either in the fuel flap or door frame). Too low and it’ll affect rolling resistance and result in bigger fuel bills.