We are calling for an end to “diesel bashing” and for a more measured response to the global issue of car pollution.
Simon Hill, Director, says that many politicians, journalists and commentators have made diesel cars an easy target, without looking at how the current situation has arisen.
Simon comments: “For many years diesel has offered the company and private motorist reliability, longevity and a lower cost of motoring.
Then, in the 90s, the European Union introduced a levy on car manufacturers based upon the average CO2 emissions of cars sold in the EU. It also knew about the nitrogen oxides (NOx) issue and decided to introduce emissions and NOx limits through what has become known as Euro emissions standards, so from 2004 we had the Euro 4 standard then 5 and in July 2016, Euro 6.
The Euro 6 standard has meant that the current crop of diesel vehicles being sold in the UK is the cleanest and most environmentally friendly ever. It represents the best possible option while technology and science strive to come up with a viable alternative.”
Simon says people need to think more broadly about the environmental implications of the cars they drive and what to do until cleaner, greener options become widely available in the 2030s.
He adds: “By 2021 all major manufacturers will offer alternative fuel vehicles, hybrids or electric vehicles, and transition, with a scrappage scheme, could be complete by 2032.
Between now and then we need to deal with vehicle usage and get the dirtiest vehicles off our roads. Dirty cars are not just diesel – they include petrol and gas vehicles as well.
While doing this we don’t want to hit business growth by adding costs unnecessarily, especially given the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.”
Simon advises that there were several ways in which the problem could be tackled including scrapping diesel and petrol cars manufactured before 2004 and introducing more Low Emission Zones where only Euro 6 rated vehicles can go.
He adds: “Vehicles produced pre-2004 that are driven badly and are poorly maintained are the most significant contributor to the emissions problem.”
Simon also wants to see stricter MOT tests, an increase in fuel additive use, better regulation of taxi emission levels and action to deal with vehicles left idling with their engines running.
Simon comments: “The answer lies not in jumping on a bandwagon without knowing what the real answer is but in thinking carefully and making the right decision.
Do we really want everyone driving electric cars whose components travel half way around the world, and in the end, are fuelled by fossil fuels? No, we don’t, as this is worse for the planet.
If we don’t start being more realistic and measured in our response to diesel, we are in danger of creating a real issue.
Both the private and fleet user could face significant losses if this negativity continues – and this could seriously hurt the economy as a whole as well as damaging the planet.”
Ten facts about diesel cars:
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveals why diesel cars are so popular – and explains how today’s diesels can help reduce emissions and make our environment cleaner and less polluted.
- Last year a record 1.3 million new diesel cars were registered in the UK, a rise of 0.6% on 2015 and it is a trend that has continued in 2017. In March, more businesses and consumers chose a new diesel car than in any other month in history, with almost quarter of a million leaving car showrooms.
- Diesel is critical to cutting CO2 emissions, and consequently tackling climate change. Diesel cars emit, on average, 20% lower CO2 than their petrol equivalents. In fact, since 2002, diesel cars have prevented 3.5 million tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
- Almost one in every two new cars registered in the UK is a diesel, with buyers valuing their high performance and low fuel consumption. On average, diesel cars use 20% less fuel than like-for-like petrol models, and with diesel drivers typically covering 60% more miles, lower fuel bills are essential.
- More than 99% of the UK’s 4.4 million commercial vehicles are powered by diesel and they transport people, essential goods and our emergency services over 61 billion miles every year. Without them, life would be much harder.
- Advanced diesel technology has virtually eliminated emissions of particulate matter, with 99% of these soot particulates captured by special filters fitted to all new diesel cars since 2011. Around half of diesels on the road now boast a DPF.5.
- The latest Euro 6 vehicles are the cleanest in history – and light years away from their older counterparts. As well as special filters, they also feature clever technology that converts most of the NOx from the engine into harmless nitrogen and water before it reaches the exhaust.
- Euro 6 technology works. Real world tests using a London bus route showed a 95% drop in NOx compared with previous generation Euro 5 buses. In fact, if every older bus operating in the capital was replaced with a Euro 6 version, total NOx emissions would fall by 7.5%.6
- The latest Euro 6 cars are classed as low emission for the purposes of the London Ultra Low Emission Zone due to come into force in 2019, meaning drivers of these vehicles will be free to enter the zone without charge.
- Contrary to recent reports, diesel cars are not the main source of urban NOx. In London, gas heating of homes and offices is the biggest contributor, responsible for 16%. While road transport as a whole is responsible for around half of London’s NOx, diesel cars produce just 11%, although concentrations will vary at different times depending on congestion. Keeping traffic moving is the key to keeping emissions low.
- In September this year, a new official EU-wide emissions testing system will come into force. This will involve, for the first time, on-road testing to better reflect the many and varied conditions involved in ‘real-world’ driving such as speed, congestion, road conditions and driving style. This will be the world’s toughest-ever emissions standard.