MIDDLE-AGED motorists are leading the charge for a greener future on the roads, with a third of them yearning for a fully electric vehicle as their next mode of transport.

Eco sensibilities have been brought into sharp focus by cleaner air and burgeoning wildlife since the start of the UK’s coronavirus lockdown.

With huge numbers of cars and vans off the roads since March due to the strict Government regulations, air pollution levels in cities across the UK has decreased dramatically.

And it seems many want to see this clean air trend continue when life returns to a ‘new normal’ – with a quarter of motorists polled in an independent new national survey revealing they would like a battery electric vehicle (BEV) for their next set of wheels.

The study, carried out by Select Car Leasing via OnePoll, gauged the views of 1,000 British motorists.

And it discovered that a significant 25% of all UK drivers plumped for a pure electric vehicle – far ahead of the more traditional diesel engines, but also ahead of conventional hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), both of which feature a fuel-powered engine as well as a battery.

The research also found that middle-aged motorists in the 45-54 age group were most keen on getting an eco-friendly model down the road – with a staggering 34% admitting electric vehicles were what they were looking for.

Mark Tongue, Director of Select Car Leasing, said: “This independent research study is a fascinating snapshot of the attitudes of modern motorists in 2020 as to how their driving experience will change towards electric vehicles over the next few years.

“It also clearly highlights how quickly we’ve moved away from the traditional internal combustion engine.

“It’s certainly fair to speculate that the current global situation – which has seen air quality improve drastically as a result of a huge reduction in traffic volume during the coronavirus lockdown – has some bearing on these findings.

“Only two years ago similar independent market research we conducted stated just one in 14 (7%) were very likely to consider an electric car. But this latest survey highlights the positive change towards battery only powered vehicles has been so swift.

“The technology behind electric cars is advancing all the time, with a number of exciting newer models – including the Kia e-Niro and Tesla Model 3 – really making waves in the market.

“And with a ban on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles due in just over a decade, it seems many motorists are looking to the future and aligning themselves with the push to reduce carbon emissions.”

Earlier this year the Government revealed it had brought forward that ban to 2035, with Transport Secretary Grant Shapps hinting it could be as early as 2032.

Another factor in their growing popularity is the slashing of company car tax on fully electric vehicles.

Unveiled by the Treasury in 2019 and introduced at the start of last month, it sees all electric vehicles paying no company car tax – or Benefit in Kind (BiK) – this financial year (2020-21), just one per cent in 2021-22 and two per cent in 2022-23.

Tongue added: “These incentives are very attractive to those offered a company car allowance, business owners and fleet managers, and could well be influential in changing the buying habits of motorists across the board.

“Not only are people more aware of their emissions, but also how these affect the costs of keeping vehicles on the roads.

“So with electric vehicles being pretty much exempt from these charges, they are only becoming more and more desirable.”

The annual Select Car Leasing independent research survey found that across all age groups, 55% of drivers wanted a petrol engine in their next car, 25% a fully electric model and just 18% a diesel vehicle.

Other popular choices were conventional hybrids (25%) and plug-in hybrids (22%).

Male drivers were more likely to go fully electric with their next purchase, with 29% choosing that option compared to 23%.

The region’s leading the eco charge were London, where 33% of those polled opted for a battery electric car, and North West England (31%).

Not surprisingly, the nation’s capital has experienced one of the greatest drops in pollution levels under the Covid-19 isolation rules.

Data from the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the University of Reading shows they fell by around 60% since the start of lockdown on March 23.

Manchester has also seen a welcome 70% decline in levels of nitrogen oxides over a similar time period, according to experts from the University of Manchester.