Back in 2017 there was a lot of media coverage about the future of diesel cars, and this year also brought the announcement that the UK Government is to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2040, which has definitely thrown another spanner in the works. This ban is the result of a long-term strategy to combat air pollution.
How much pollution do diesel cars actually cause?
shows that, in Greater London, private diesel cars contribute just 11% of the harmful nitrogen oxide gases (NOx) in the city, and even though there are fewer of them on the road, lorries produce the same amount.
Not only that, has said that “it would take 42m Euro-6 diesel cars (almost four times the number on the roads) to generate the same amount of NOx as one UK coal-fired power station.”
In central London, the NOx figure in the air from private diesel cars drops to just 5% and is dwarfed by the 38% from gas for heating homes and offices.
Other sources of pollution come from industry and other machinery, such as those on building sites, as well as commercial vehicles like buses and taxis, so this is a problem not just limited to cars.
There are a lot of things that need to be done in the fight against pollution, but it all boils down to the question – should you buy a diesel car?
The diesel car ban
The sale of exclusively petrol or diesel cars in the UK may be banned by 2040. The ban is only for the sale of NEW diesel cars. If you buy a car now, you can use it for as long as you wish and the government will not take it off you in terms of this ban.
But efforts have begun in cities and other built up areas to try and combat diesel emissions and coax drivers into looking for alternatively fuelled cars. So, if these are places you drive often, you may want to think about hanging up the diesel’s fuzzy dice earlier.
But, cities aren’t part of your daily routine and instead are combating motorway miles, the savings in terms of fuel efficiency will always be superior in a diesel car. This economy may even counter the inflated tax price if you are looking to buy a new diesel car (there’s more on tax below.)
So, make the most of the last couple of decades with your efficient diesel motor. If you can’t afford yourself a hybrid yet, then there really is no rush.
Some things to be mindful of is that fees are starting to come into force in places such as clean air areas, parking places which may penalise diesel cars more than others.
What are the benefits of diesel cars?
Despite the negative publicity surrounding diesel, you can’t argue that their modern cars are amazingly efficient and cheap to tax (before 1st April 2017) based on their low CO2 emissions.
Thanks to all of this, they’re great for the longer commutes and since they have more pulling power compared to their petrol counterparts they are better for towing large trailers and caravans.
You will also find large petrol cars are hard to come by on the used market since they’re usually expensive to run, both in petrol and road tax.
Let’s take the BMW 3 Series. The table below shows key data for the current petrol and diesel engines and the ones before them:
The main thing to notice here is the NOx levels. In the latest diesel engine, the NOx figures are practically the same as the old petrol engine! And with the recent uproar about diesel emissions, it’s likely that the NOx emissions will drop even further when the next engine is released.
Will I be taxed more for owning a diesel car?
Any increase in road tax will affect all cars, not just diesel cars.
On were released for cars registered after that date. If you’ve bought a car that was registered before the 1st April 2017 and you only pay £30, £20 or even nothing for road tax – this shouldn’t change… but keep on reading.
Under the previous banding, cars that produce more than 121 g/km of CO2 have typically seen an increase in tax every year. By the same stretch, it’s figured that cars producing between 101 and 120 g/km of CO2 – so qualify for £20-£30 road tax – may see an increase in road tax, but this hasn’t been confirmed.
But right now, a lot of modern diesel cars on the used market are cleaner than ever and can qualify for £0 road tax, so you’re unlikely to suffer if you buy one.
There are already plans in place in London to introduce a charge on top of the congestion charge for any vehicle, regardless of fuel type, that don’t meet Euro 6 emissions standards. There are plans for similar schemes in other major UK city centres which will likely affect all petrol and diesel cars.
Will diesel cars be worth less than they are now?
According to a report by CAP HPI in 2017, the average value of used diesels with 3 years/60,000 miles was 1.5% less than the previous year
This wasn’t as sharp as the year before, which saw a drop of 1.9%. But until there is a final decision made by the government on diesel cars (apart from the 2040 deadline) the value shouldn’t drop dramatically.
Are hybrids and electric cars viable options?
As there is a push to get more of these cars on the road, manufacturers are working to improve the battery ranges of these kind of vehicles. Right now across the board, be they conventional hybrids, plug-in hybrids or fully electric cars, these vehicles can’t come close to diesel cars on long commutes. And since charging points haven’t been rolled out everywhere, that’s another hurdle that will need sorting before these can become viable.
When it comes down to it, the media might be over-exaggerating when it comes to the war on diesels.
Cars with Euro 6 emissions ratings are cleaner than ever and it’s unlikely that these will be affected by any legislation. Plus, diesel still comes up trumps compared to petrol and hybrids for long commutes.
On the CarShop website, you can see what emissions a car has under the “key facts”, along with how many miles to gallon it will get on average and how much road tax you will need to pay.
- On: 11 March 2019
- By: CarShop
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