Car drivers choose petrol and reject electric

New research has revealed that private car buyers appear to be choosing used cars over new vehicles – with petrol power the top choice and EVs the cars least likely to be purchased.

The news will come as a blow to the industry and government, which is still failing to see any traction in private car buyers moving to electric cars – with the vast majority of sales of EVs being made by fleets.

Here motoring journalist and expert Pete Barden looks at some of the results from the Motor Ombudsman poll that explain current car-buying habits for Brits in the market for a new motor

New research has revealed that car buyers are not impressed with electric cars. Credit: Erik McLean/PexelsNew research has revealed that car buyers are still not impressed with electric cars. (Credit: Erik McLean/

How are economic pressures driving car purchasing?

With household expenses on the rise, including council tax, broadband, water, and energy charges, the inclination to save money is particularly strong. Notably, female drivers and individuals aged 25-34 show a higher propensity (63%) to opt for used cars compared to their male counterparts (53%) and other age groups.

What external factors influencing car purchasing decisions?

The research highlights several factors influencing the preference for used cars. Four in ten people pooled prefer vehicles with previous owners taking the hit of initial depreciation. Additionally, the wide variety of options available nationwide (32%) and the opportunity to test drive and purchase cars from forecourts (26%) are attractive features.

Are people buying petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric cars?

The poll indicates a preference for petrol models (46%), particularly among individuals aged 55 and above (52%). Hybrids (26%), diesel variants (17%), and electric vehicles come bottom of the list with just 10% of respondents making them their top choice.

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Research highlights:

If you were to buy a used car in 2024, which of the following, if any, would you be most likely to purchase?

  • A petrol car  45.6%
  • A hybrid car 26.2%
  • A diesel car 16.9%
  • An all-electric car (EV) 10.2%

Imagine you were looking to buy a used (second hand) car this year. What, if anything, would be your reasons for buying a used car rather than one which was brand-new?

  • It would be to save money, as it is often cheaper to buy a used car than a brand new version of a similar / same model 57.6%
  • Buying a used car helps avoid incurring the initial loss of value (i.e. depreciation) associated with a new car purchase 40.1%
  • There is often a large selection of used cars to choose from across the country  32.3%
  • I could buy and take a car for a test drive that was in stock / on the forecourt 25.9%
  • I would not have to wait for my chosen model specification to be built and delivered 19.7%
  • I would be able to read first-hand owner reviews about the performance and reliability of makes and models that had been on sale for some time, to help with my purchase decision 19.5%
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Author: Pete Barden:

Twitter: @pete_barden

Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (, New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? ( Stuff Magazine (, Fastcar Magazine (, Maxim Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden on LinkedIn.

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