The emissions testing scandal surrounding car manufacturer Volkswagen has damaged motoristsâ€™ trust in car makersâ€™ environmental claims, research carried out by the RAC has suggested.
According to the research, six in ten drivers (57%) of the 2,565 surveyed claimed that they had lost confidence in the environmental credentials put forward by manufacturers, while 66% said that they believed that the emissions testing process in Europe is not close enough to real-world driving conditions.
However, the perception of diesel as a vehicle fuel does not appear to have been damaged as a result of the scandal, RAC claims, despite the negative attention about the harmful effects of diesel emissions.
RAC believes that there is no appetite among motorists for increasing the level of taxation charged on diesel cars.
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: â€œItâ€™s clear from our research that despite all the talk about the real world emissions of pollutants from diesel cars and light commercial vehicles exceeding test values, motorists are generally far more concerned about their vehiclesâ€™ fuel economy than they are about its emissions of pollutants.
â€œWhile motorists are not oblivious to the harmful effects of diesel emissions, they are â€“ perhaps understandably â€“ far more concerned about fuel economy because of the impact that this has on household finances. This is in contrast to the invisible effects of oxides of nitrogen which have no immediate impact on their pockets unless they happen to live in one of the few areas where diesel vehicle ownership is penalised in some way.â€
Mr Bizley claimed that privately-owned cars contribute to around 35% of overall oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions in city centres with the bulk of the remainder emitted by buses, taxis and commercial vehicles.
He said it emphasised that actions to improve air quality should be prioritised to target the biggest generators of pollution and â€œnot seen as just another opportunity to generate more revenues for local authorities from cash-strapped motorists.â€
Despite the comments by RAC, Autogas Limited â€“ a joint venture between Shell and Calor â€“ which supplies liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), has claimed that the VW scandal has seen a glut of drivers register their interest in the technology.
Linda Gomersall, general manager of Autogas Limited said: â€œWith its potential for huge cost savings, LPG has always appealed to those drivers looking to reduce their fuel bills, but with the growing concerns about emissions levels over the last couple of months, weâ€™re now seeing a significant increase in conversion enquiries as more fleets and individuals look for cleaner alternatives to diesel and petrol.â€