A ‘diesel diatribe’ has cost UK car owners a staggering £35billion in depreciation, a new report has claimed.
Earlier this week, Jaguar Land Rover managing director Jeremy Hicks said motorists were being frightened off diesel cars by the threat of council bans, extra charges and ‘false impressions’ generated by campaigners demonising diesel – while buses, trucks and other polluters including log-burning stoves were ignored.
And new statistics from the London Assembly Environment Committee suggest he has a point, with diesel cars emitting less nitrogen oxides overall (NOx) than gas central heating and buses in the the most congested parts of the city.
Diesel diatribe: According to new data, diesel cars contribute less NOx emissions to London than gas central heating, diesel machinery and HGVs. FairFuelUK said passenger cars are being wrongfully targeted by environmentalists and politicians
Motoring campaign group FairFuelUK said environmentalists and opportunistic politicians were providing factually incorrect information about diesel cars, all of which look set to encourage the introduction of additional surcharges on those who own them.
It claimed that the negativity surrounding the fuel type has already cost drivers £35 billion in lost vehicle value in light of questionable figures supporting an assault on diesel.
‘Basing legislative decisions on the current levels of misinformation risks a negligible improvement in urban air quality,’ it said in a new report this week.
The diesel crackdown is set to continue with London Mayor Sadiq Khan announcing even tougher proposals for cars in the city this week.
The FairFuel report highlighted data provided by the committee that reviews the London Mayor’s strategies on air quality that showed that diesel cars are not as polluting as other emissions sources in London.
It said diesel passenger cars are responsible for 11 per cent of the capital’s NOx pollution.
In comparison, gas central heating contributes 16 per cent of London’s NOx output, and buses in the centre of London are responsible for a similar same amount.
Diesel plants and machinery produced 14 per cent of London’s NOx output, while heavy good vehicles, diesel vans and rail combined represent almost a quarter (24 per cent) of the nitrogen oxides emissions.
Despite this, FairFuelUK said diesel passenger cars are taking the fall for other big emitters.
JLR’s Jeremy Hicks agreed. During a motor industry summit in London on Tuesday, he said that critics were too often ‘identifying the wrong villains’ by criticising modern, clean diesel vehicles and ignoring buses, taxis and trucks.
‘The impression is being given that the way to improve air quality in our cities is simply to ban diesel cars from entering them,’ he said.
‘The diesel cars that Jaguar Land Rover and the rest of the industry produce today are comparable with the petrol ones in terms of the nitrogen oxide, nitrogen dioxide and the particulates they emit. There has been a seismic shift in diesel technology.
‘It would be truly tragic for our environment and our mobility if those developments were delayed because of the negative impact a mishandled, misinformed diesel debate had on our industry.’
London buses are responsible for 8% of all NOx emission in London. In busy central parts of the city, it contributes to 16% of the pollution, the London Assembly Environment Committee said
Targeted diesel cars are owned by ‘low earners’
In a poll of 11,000 drivers conducted by FairFuelUK, 94 per cent said they felt they had been deceived into purchasing diesel cars that are now vulnerable to additional taxes by the past Government.
Of the seven million pre-2008 diesel cars on UK roads – those likely to be hardest hit by additional surcharges – the majority tend to be owned by ‘a low income demographic’, the campaign group added.
Any extra flat charges on car tax, parking or other measures hit them in the pocket harder than wealthier car owners as they represent a greater proportion of their earnings.
Meanwhile, lower earners are less likely to be able to afford to switch to a newer car, or get a company car provided by work, which would be regularly renewed.
It went on to conclude that London’s dirty air is due in part to the unintended consequences of poor government and local transport policies rather than the impact of diesel cars.
Quentin Willson, lead spokesman for FairFuelUK said: ‘If we’re really committed to improving urban air quality we need to apply evidence-based world-class science – and not blame everything on well-intentioned consumers who were told by government to switch to diesel.
Howard Cox, founder of the campaign added: ’37m UK drivers want DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) to review solutions to lowering emissions that don’t involve ineffectual and malevolent knee-jerk tax hikes.
‘There are proven effective methods to improving air quality which FairFuelUK has presented to them. Will they have the guts to produce a long term sustainable plan or will this new Government succumb to inaccurate emotive headlines and fleece hard working motorists and small businesses instead?’
Searches for used diesel cars slide
In a bid to restrict the use of high-polluting older cars, toxicity taxes will be introduced in London later this year followed by more stringent low emissions zones in the capital and other major cities from 2019.
Fear about these extra charges, along with a potential diesel-only scrappage scheme, additional road or fuel-tax on diesel and higher parking charges are turning buyers off the fuel type.
CARS SOLD THORUGH CAR GURUS IN 2017 – DIESEL NUMBERS FALLING
Diesel Petrol Jan-17 61.1% 37.5% Feb-17 61.6% 36.9% Mar-17 58.8% 39.8% Apr-17 55.8% 42.8% May-17 55.0% 43.5% *Remaining % for each month represents hybrid & electric sales
According to CarGurus, a used car website that currently lists more than 300,000 dealer-sourced second-hand motors, there’s been a drop-off in the number of people searching for and buying diesels since the turn of the year.
It said that 61 per cent of all cars bought through the site in January were diesel models, though that dropped to 55 per cent by May.
Regionally, search volumes for diesel cars are down across the country.
In the last three months, diesel-car look-ups in the UK have dropped by 2.5 per cent, while searches for petrol models have increased by 2.7 per cent.
In London, diesel dropped by 2.9 per cent as petrol searching increased by 3.3 per cent.
Edinburgh posted the smallest decline in diesel search volumes, down just 0.01 per cent, Car Gurus said.
The biggest shift was in Leicester, where diesel traffic on the site was down 4.9 per cent while petrol look-ups were 4.6 per cent higher.