Car manufacturers are focusing on smaller engines and cleaner, more efficient vehicles, according to KPMG's International 2014 Global Automotive Executive Survey. Driven by cash strapped consumers with environmental consciousness, manufacturers are increasing their production of hybrid vehicles, which appear to be winning the ultra-low carbon popularity race: 'Continuing consumer concern with fuel efficiency and pollution is urging automakers to focus on plug-in hybrid engines for the near future,î said John Leech, KPMG's UK head of automotive. 'Since the development of e-vehicle technology takes time, in parallel, automakers are also maintaining a strong grasp on downsizing the internal combustion engine, which is expected to deliver substantial improvement in fuel efficiency during this decade.î 92 per cent of respondents said that fuel efficiency is an integral factor when buying a new vehicle, primarily for cost reasons, following large rises in petrol pump prices in the last two decades. 70 per cent also mentioned that enhanced vehicle lifespan is a critical factor, with consumers keen to find vehicles which last. While environmental consciousness slipped from second to fifth in the position of importance, CO2 emissions are still a key factor in consumers' buying decisions; alternative fuel technology also took a lower priority, with fewer than 50 per cent of respondents feeling this was important. However the Government will be pleased that seven in ten respondents recognised that their Plug-in Car Grant is deemed integral to new e-car sales for further expansion. Plug-in vehicles are expected to gain the greatest demand of any e-vehicle, with 69 per cent of respondents seeing fuel cell technology as being crucial in the next 10 years. New vehicle technology is increasingly becoming adopted by fleet operators, with Burnt Tree recently announcing the addition of the new Toyota Auris Icon 1.8 Hybrid E-CVT to its national vehicle rental fleet: 'By using clever hybrid technology, the Toyota Auris hybrids are really economical, practical vehicles and they are the first ever hybrids to be available through the Burnt Tree branch network,î said Chris Sharp, director at Burnt Tree. 'We believe that they will be extremely popular additions to our rental and contract hire fleets, especially in the sensitive urban conurbations such as London.î These models are typically in the lowest company car tax bracket and qualify for free road tax: 'The standout feature of these vehicles are the running costs of over 70mpg and the added attraction for company car users of its low CO2 emissions of just 89g/km,î Sharp said.