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Motoring chiefs: Stop demonising diesel

Motoring chiefs have launched a ‘stop demonising diesel’ campaign in the wake of news local councils are introducing or considering higher parking charges for diesel cars.

BMW, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Volkswagen joined Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) chief executive Mike Hawes in condemning the recent attack on diesel engines, citing the fact it would take 42-million Euro-6 diesel compliant cars to generate what a UK coal-fired power station churns out ─ four times the number of cars currently on UK roads.

The nationwide campaign includes a diesel myth-busting guide available at dieselfacts.co.uk and in leaflets at car makers and dealers, which aims to expel myths and stop widespread confusion that could ‘undermine the UK’s efforts to meet strict air quality and climate change obligations’.

87 per cent of 2,166 UK adults admitted they are unaware of the EU vehicle emission standards, which come into effect on the 1st of September, 2015. Only 19 per cent, meanwhile, correctly identified power stations are the biggest polluters, with 54 per cent incorrectly blaming cars and commercial vehicles.

These facts have not stopped Islington council in North London from planning to charge residents a £96 surcharge for parking a diesel car outside of their homes.

It is unsurprising car manufacturers have waded in on the subject. They have, after all, invested billions of pounds into making diesels cleaner than they have ever been, with backing from a government that was once pro-diesel and is now punishing motorists who took the plunge when buying a new car.

Hawes said: “Today’s diesel engines are the cleanest ever, and the culmination of billions of pounds of investment by manufacturers to improve air quality. Bans and parking taxes on diesel vehicles therefore make no sense from an environmental point of view.

“We need to avoid penalising one vehicle technology over another and instead encourage the uptake of the latest low emission vehicles by consumers. The allegations against diesel cars made in recent months threaten to misguide policy making and undermine public confidence in diesel. It’s time to put the record straight.”

BMW UK CEO Graeme Grieve highlighted the fact diesels can be cleaner than petrol cars: “Diesel cars produce, on average, 20% less CO2 than equivalent petrol cars and so have a vital role to play in helping to arrest climate change.”

“It is only if British drivers continue to choose diesel cars that the UK can meet its tough CO2 targets. Great strides have been taken to transform diesel engine emissions technology and continued, major investment from the industry is making them even cleaner,” he added.

AA president Edmund King defended diesels: “There is a certain irony that the ‘dash for diesel’ was encouraged by governments in fiscal policy over several years and that now there is this short-sighted ‘demonisation of diesel’.

“Policy makers can’t keep shifting the goal posts without informing consumers. Policy aimed at reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions has favoured diesel over the past 15 years while the reduction of toxic exhaust emissions harmful to health has been addressed through progressively more-stringent European emissions standards.”

UK nitrogen oxide levels from passenger cars have fallen by 81 per cent since 1990, while three million tonnes of CO2 have been prevented by motorists opting for cleaner diesel engines, according to the SMMT facts.

The UK is one of many countries seeing a backlash from the government. Paris is considering banning all diesel vehicles from the city by 2020.

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