Diesel car condemnation has caused two negative changes in the UK
Diesel cars’ turbulent 2017 didn’t just damage the reputation of the fuel itself longterm but had a knock-on effect on the entire industry.
Revelations of the harmful NOx emissions and particulates diesel engines emit and the fines and penalties drivers are beginning to receive as a result of these being brought to light.
However, many modern diesel cars which meet EU6 emissions standards can actually match up to petrol cars in terms of NOx and CO2 pollutants.
There are many cars being built that are much cleaner than before and good investments for drivers.
These new diesels have been marred by the association to the older and more polluting models and have led to a lack of trust in diesel.
This is concerning for the entire car industry for a number of reasons.
Firstly and most dramatically, CO2 emissions rose in 2017 for the first time in 14 years as a direct result of motorists buying petrol cars over diesels.
Since 2003, CO2 emissions had been decreasing exponentially by 4.02g/km annually.
Official government statistics for the first ten months of 2017 show that the average new car produces 121.1g of CO2 per kilometre.
This increase in CO2 emissions coincides with the other worrying trend in the UK car market at the moment which is a distinct decrease in sales.
The rise in CO2 emissions could derail the government’s ambitious climate change targets.
MPs have, however, stated that if they do continue to rise they will “intervene firmly.”
The UK new car market declined in 2017, with annual registrations falling for the first time in six years, according to figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
We’re now seeing the real life impact of such decisions
December marked the ninth consecutive month that negative growth in the UK, with a drop in sales by 14 per cent.
This contributed to an over all decline of 5.7 per cent.
It was good news for alternatively fuelled vehicles seeing an increase of 34.8 per cent but with just a 4.7 per cent overall market share their overall impact on the market is still fairly negligible.
Chris Green, CRO of consumer car management expert Regit, has stated the long standing demonisation of diesel by consecutive governments has finally taken its toll on the UK car industry.
“Not only are diesel sales down over 17% YOY, but to date there has been an extremely worrying 30% drop in Q4 alone.
“There are no new diesel models forecast to replace such a large volume of cars and with manufacturers stating they will not be in full EV production until 2021 at the very earliest, consumers don’t yet see practical replacements for their current model, so I fully expect this demonisation to impact the UK car market for the next three to four years.
“This sales hit has been the result of successive governments continuing to punish diesel drivers without offering any real incentives for them to upgrade and purchase a more environmentally friendly model.
“As a result, many consumers will now run their existing models to the ground and this worrying collapse of UK car sales will continue to impact the market until serious spending on EV infrastructure at a national level begins. And when you couple this with the uncertainty over both Brexit and a potential Corbyn government, the outlook for UK car sales moving into 2020 is beginning to look bleak.
“Phillip Hammond’s latest diesel tax, announced in last year’s Autumn Budget, was the latest example of a government unfairly targeting diesel car owners and ignoring a considerable portion of the problem – commercial vehicles.
“This is just the latest example of how the private motorist has often been made the scapegoat for environmental problems, whilst the commercial sector has continued to be spared from any real policy change – we’re now seeing the real life impact of such decisions.”
Drop in diesel car sales has seen an increase in CO2 emissions
Conversely some environmental groups have claimed that the death of diesel is positive and essential to achieving environmental targets.
Reacting to news that sales of new diesel cars dropped by 20 per cent last year, ClientEarth’s CEO James Thornton said: “It’s no surprise that diesel sales were down last year.
“Diesel vehicles are responsible for much of the illegal and harmful levels of air pollution in towns and cities across the UK. Clean Air Zones, which charge the dirtiest vehicles to enter the most polluted areas, are on their way and people are increasingly aware of that.
“These Clean Air Zones need to be introduced across the country as quickly as possible and at the same time the government and the car industry, which is partly responsible for this mess, need to help people to move from dirty diesels to cleaner forms of transport.”
While older diesel cars and those that are highly polluting need to be removed from the roads, the conflicting statements in the industry are causing confusion among drivers.
Similarly these motorists are outraged by the Government’s condemnation of diesel and the subsequent punishments including increased car tax.
From April 2018 diesel drivers face paying up to £500 on their car tax.
Clean air zones will charge drivers of these cars a daily fee to access them, much like the way the T-Charge zone in London works.
Parking charges have also been trialled in areas across Britain as councils look to crackdown on air pollution caused by cars, which contributes to 40,000 premature deaths annually.
In 2001, the Government at the time encouraged car owners to buy a diesel car.
This was because they produced less CO2 emissions than a diesel car, thus resulting in them being incentivised to buy.
Since the VW scandal when the true nitrogen oxides and particulates emissions data was revealed these cars are seemingly being punished by authorities.
New documents obtained by the BBC revealed, however, that the Government knew the hair these cars could do to the environment and to humans but still went forth and encouraged people to buy them.
Without compensation from the Government through scrappage schemes and better education from industry professionals about which diesel cars are still oaky to buy or whether or not people should at all, then the downward spiral in car sales and CO2 emissions increase will likely only get worse.