Carmakers attack diesel car 'demonisation'

Updated: 
Diesel campaign
Yui Mok/PA WIRE

Car manufacturers - including BMW, Ford and Jaguar Land Rover - along with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) have launched a campaign to combat the "demonisation" of diesel cars.

Diesel cars have surged in popularity in recent years, with buyers seduced by lower vehicle tax and the potential for greater fuel economy.

Now, however, there have been several initiatives aimed at curbing the use of diesel cars due to their high levels of particulate emissions, which have contributed to reductions in air quality in urban areas that are being blamed for respiratory health problems.

The backlash has been such that the mayor of Paris has called for all diesel vehicles to be banned from the city by 2020.

However, European carmakers – which have invested billions into diesel engines to cut CO2 emissions – have dismissed concerns over pollution, citing new Euro-6 regulations, which have forced manufacturers to drastically reduce particulate emissions.

They are urging policy makers not to introduce penalties for motorists who drive diesel cars. Some local authorities in London are already charging diesel-owning residents more for parking permits than their petrol-driving neighbours.

"Today's diesel engines are the cleanest ever, and the culmination of billions of pounds of investment by manufacturers to improve air quality," said Mike Hawes, the chief executive of SMMT. "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."

A recent YouGov poll suggested that the overwhelming majority (87 per cent) of the pubic were unaware of efforts made by the industry to improve the cleanliness of diesel engines. However, the same poll found that around three-quarters of British motorists were against penalties on the cleanest diesel vehicles.

Drivers and car buyers looking for further information can visit the SMMT's campaign page here.