Motorists Change Direction

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Higher car-tax, burgeoning fuel prices and environmental concerns appear to be having an effect on the thinking of British motorists. Insurance retailer Swinton has noticed a move away from larger cars, and a significant increase of interest in small-engined vehicles.

Swinton have analysed their database of motor insurance quotes, and found a notable change in the pattern of quote requests. The sector that has been hardest hit is the larger, four-wheel drive vehicle market. Over the past year, Swinton has seen a decline of 16 percent in the demand for quotes for Hummers and large 4×4’s, such as Range Rover. Their findings echo the figures released in a recent report by The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), who revealed that sales of SUVs have declined by 18 percent during the past year.

Swinton also reports a decline, of 11 percent, in motorists requesting quotes for smaller Sports Utility Vehicles. Meanwhile quotes for vehicles with engines smaller than 1.5 litres have increased by 20 percent during the same period. Swinton’s data-analysts claim that this is clearly a reflection of motorists’ concerns over rising fuel costs, car-tax bands and global warming.

Another trend highlighted by the report is that of motorists reducing mileage. Swinton report that they are receiving an increasing number of requests for quotes on low-mileage insurance. The company feels that the recent 30 percent hike in fuel prices has prompted motorists to look towards public transport and car-sharing schemes.

It appears that many two-car families are now taking one of their vehicles off the road. Over the past year there has been an increase of SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) declarations to the DVLA. This saves the motorist money, but may also be a reflection of the fact that larger cars are currently losing value at an appalling rate. Chris Collings, Swinton’s Director of Insurer Development, explained, “The value of larger second hand cars, even with very low mileage, has plummeted and many owners would prefer to stack their car on bricks rather than realise its low value now. It is possible that we will be seeing more people declaring their cars off road as drivers feel the squeeze and tighten their belts”.

With London’s congestion charge becoming an emissions charge, and motorists’ increasing awareness of environmental concerns, the trend towards smaller, eco-friendly vehicles is becoming firmly established. Sales of Band B cars, those producing less than 120g/km of CO2, have increased by 20 percent over the past year.

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