Despite the recent Greenpeace Star Wars-themed protest against Volkswagen, consumers still consider it the car brand with the best overall reputation, according to new research by PRWeek/OnePoll.
Volkswagen was the favoured brand of 36 per cent of respondents. Ford was in second place with 15 per cent and Honda was third with 13 per cent.
Only seven per cent of respondents were aware of the Greenpeace protest against Volkswagen's environmental record (prweek.com/uk, 28 June), but of those who were, 60 per cent said they now trusted Volkswagen less as a brand.
When asked which car brand was the most environmentally friendly, Volkswagen dropped to fourth position, with just eight per cent. Top-rated was Smart (26 per cent), followed by Toyota (20 per cent) and Honda (13 per cent).
However, Volkswagen was seen as the safest and most reliable car brand by 22 per cent of respondents, ahead of Volvo (19 per cent) and Toyota (15 per cent).
Although only eight per cent of respondents said their opinion of Toyota had improved since the recall of millions of vehicles with potentially defective accelerator and brake pedals last year, the brand was named as the third safest and reliable car brand by 15 per cent of those polled.
A car's green credentials seems to be a very low priority for consumers when choosing a car to buy.
Only three per cent said it was their most important factor.
The most important was price.
Survey of 2,000 members of the public conducted by global research agency OnePoll
HOW I SEE IT
Chris Wakley, Executive director, Automotive PR
Given the emphasis from vehicle manufacturers on lower-emission vehicles in recent years, particularly in their advertising, it is surprising that only three per cent of respondents said environmentalfriendliness was the most important factor when choosing a car. Indeed, it would appear that despite the work of car manufacturers in promoting their lower-emission vehicles, a significant proportion of people - two-thirds - said they were not doing enough to reduce the environmental impact of their vehicles.
Overall awareness of the recent Greenpeace campaign against Volkswagen was very low at only seven per cent, although of those who were aware of it, six out of ten said they now trusted the firm less. But it was not all bad news for Volkswagen - it was seen as having the best overall reputation.
Car companies must explain that while electric is likely to be a motive power of the future, the humble internal combustion engine has huge green development potential.