Ford to offer thousands of pounds off vehicles to get 'dirtiest cars' off roads

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Combustion fumes coming out of car exhaust pipe

Car-maker Ford has announced a scheme to enable drivers to scrap the most polluting vehicles and receive thousands of pounds towards the purchase of new, cleaner models.

The firm's UK boss said hundreds of thousands of the dirtiest cars could be taken off the road under the deal, adding that the company "shares society's concerns over air quality".

Any car or van registered before December 31 2009 is eligible for the scheme, which runs to the end of the year.

Incentives are available on a variety of Ford models, from £2,000 for a new Fiesta to £7,000 for a Transit van.

Air pollution causes an estimated 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK and is linked to health problems from childhood illnesses to heart disease and even dementia.

The Government last month announced proposals to introduce a "targeted scrappage scheme" as part of its court-mandated plans for meeting legal European Union limits on harmful nitrogen dioxide pollution.

It would be focused on drivers who need most support, such as those on lower incomes or living next to a clean air zone.

Ministers also plan to ban the sale of all conventional diesel and petrol cars by 2040 and are considering funding measures to cut pollution with a tax on new diesel vehicles.

Ford of Britain chairman and managing director Andy Barratt said: "Ford shares society's concerns over air quality.

"Removing generations of the most polluting vehicles will have the most immediate positive effect on air quality, and this Ford scrappage scheme aims to do just that.

"We don't believe incentivising sales of new cars goes far enough and we will ensure that all trade-in vehicles are scrapped. Acting together, we can take hundreds of thousands of the dirtiest cars off our roads and out of our cities."

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, described the announcement as a "shrewd commercial move by a company that has invested heavily in petrol and diesel technology".

He said: "Ford is right that the very latest internal combustion engines are miles cleaner than their predecessors but without knowing where, when and how far the scrapped vehicles have been driven, it is impossible to calculate the scheme's positive impact on air quality in those very specific urban areas when the problem is at its worst.

"A key feature is the offer of good deals on vans which are often key contributors to air pollution and carbon emissions.

"The acid test is whether the savings are enough to entice people and businesses who normally settle for second-hand vehicles to now trade up and buy new."