A survey of 5,000 random visitors to the used car website found that only 206 visitors chose ‘fuel economy’ as a search option – representing just 4.1 per cent of searches.
By contrast, more than 3,500 specified a specific model of car, 1600 specified a body style and 485 searched for cars of a particular colour. The 5,000 users were tracked on one day in March.
Managing director, Neil Addley, said: ‘We’re very surprised by how few people take an interest in fuel economy when searching for their next used car. Petrol prices have never been higher and one of the primary reasons that people buy a used car over a new car is because of the cost savings in terms of depreciation.
‘We can only assume that cars remain primarily a lifestyle purchase and that buyers are more motivated other factors far more than the ecological impact of their car. In fact, the running costs of a car don’t seem to factor heavily in any regard. Only 4.3 per cent of searchers specified insurance costs.
‘Another factor might be that people assume that engine size and type are more proxies for fuel efficiency. In fact, with diesel now comparable with petrol in price and the increasing size of cars in general a more informed choice would be to look for dedicated ‘eco’ models such as the VW Polo Bluemotion, which are designed with efficiency in mind, rather than assuming that a smaller engine will deliver better efficiency.’
A “heatmap” of clicks on the site (pictured below) illustrates how small a part fuel efficiency plays in the buying decision.