More than a third of car insurance enquiries are for the most polluting cars

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The most polluting cars are still popular on UK roads according to study.

New research from MoneySuperMarket reveals more than one in three (36%) cars in the UK fall into the worst two categories for harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.

The key findings from the research are as follows:

  • Luton has the highest concentration of polluting cars – two in five (40.4%) car insurance enquiries are for vehicles with the worst rated carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions
  • Over half of motorists (52%) say environmental impact will be a primary consideration when purchasing their next car
  • Drivers are willing to pay over £2k more for vehicles with a greener emissions rating

Despite the increasing popularity of greener vehicles, more than one in three (36%) cars in the UK fall into the worst two categories for harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, according to new research by leading price comparison site

The study combines insurance enquiry volumes for car makes and models with data from the AIR Index, which ranks vehicles from A (most environmentally friendly) to E (least environmentally friendly).

Figures reveal that the most enquired about car in the UK, the 2008 Volkswagen Golf, is rated C for CO2 and D for NOx. The contribution of this model to road pollution may therefore be significant, due to its prevalence and low performing emissions scores.

Across the UK, Luton has the highest concentration of polluting cars with the worst CO2 and NOx ratings, with over two-fifths (40.4%) of car insurance enquiries being for models in categories D or E. Following closely behind are Peterborough and Taunton, averaging 39.4% and 39.2% respectively.

The 10 UK towns and cities with the highest proportion of car insurance enquiries for vehicles with D or E CO2 and NOx ratings:

City/Town Average combined percentage of car insurance enquiries for polluting cars  with D & E CO2 and NOx ratings
Luton 40.4%
Peterborough 39.4%
Taunton 39.2%
Llandrindod Wells 38.7%
Kirkwall 38.6%
Leicester 38.5%
Norwich 38.4%
Canterbury 38.3%
Jersey 38.3%
Doncaster 38.2%


Despite a considerable number of cars with poor CO2 and NOx ratings on the roads, the environmental impact of vehicles is high on British motorists’ agendas. Two-thirds (66%) of car owners say they considered the environmental impact of their latest vehicle before purchasing it, with a third (33%) saying it was the primary consideration.

With the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel vehicles on the horizon, the data shows a shift in mindset, with over half (52%) now saying that the environmental impact of a vehicle would be the primary consideration when deciding which car to buy next.

Nearly two-fifths (39%) say they are more likely to buy a hybrid car or electric car specifically due to the ban, while almost a third (28%) say it’s causing them to think more carefully about the harmful impact cars have on the environment.

In total, two thirds (66%) of motorists worry about the impact their current car has on the environment. But it appears drivers are willing to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to going green, stating they would be prepared to spend £2,384 more on average for a vehicle that was better for the environment.

Kate Devine, car insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket, commented: “With over one-third (36%) of cars in the UK having the poorest emissions ratings, it’s alarming to think of the environmental impact this might have. However, as a growing number of ‘green’ vehicles flood the market, it’s great to see MoneySuperMarket customers starting to opt for more environmentally friendly options.”

“If environmental impact is a primary concern for you, there are an ever-increasing range of hybrid and electric vehicles which can help to reduce emissions on the roads. And whichever car you own or plan to buy, you should always compare the options for insurance to ensure you get the best deal for you.”

To find out everything you need to know on insurance for electric cars, visit the MoneySuperMarket website.

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