Vauxhall told edie that the motor car was “vastly cleaner” than it was just 10 years ago with a huge number of vehicles now on sale at under 100gm of CO2.

According to Vauxhall’s director of communications Denis Chick: “People are buying low emission vehicles in the knowledge that not only are they clean but the direct benefit of clean means lean in terms of fuel consumption.”

The comments follow the release of figures published by the AA that revealed fuel forecourts in the UK are dispensing 3.5 billion fewer litres of fuel than five years ago.

Nissan put the reduction in fuel sales down to consumers seeking more efficient cars because of tax and fuel costs.

The company also noted that “manufacturers had made great strides and improved fuel efficiency in the past few years.”

In addition, Nissan said its electrical vehicle (EV), LEAF, has just had its best ever sales month in the UK.

“The benefits of EV ownership are far more than environmental. This is becoming apparent to more motorists than ever and we are confident this will result in EVs becoming an increasingly popular choice,” said a Nissan spokesperson.

However, Chick erred on the side of caution when it came to electric vehicles, describing them as “just another but significant zero/low emission option” which was “very slow burn across all manufacturers in sales terms.”

“We are continuing to educate and sales are steady but these cars are expensive by virtue of their advanced technology and currently low volumes. We all know that but there is no getting away from the fact that as an industry we need to continue the development and the sales push as oil is not forever,” he added.

The two car manufactures’ comments were in response to a survey from What car? which found that almost 40% of respondents would consider offsetting the emissions of their vehicle, 10% more than would buy a hybrid or electric alternative.

Chick argued that the survey was not necessarily independent because it was conducted in association with a carbon offsetting company and said the term “carbon offset vehicle” was unclear.

He said: ” I don’t see carbon offsetting for motor cars becoming a key part of the sales process until someone makes it very clear what offsetting means, sorts out the costs and makes them very clear via an advertising campaign.”

Conor McGlone

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