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The last days of diesel?

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Monday, 18 May 2015 GMT

Author: Staveley Head

Diesel, it seems, is the new demon. It is claimed these massively popular engines are now contributing to air pollution in a major way. So with around a third of vehicles in the UK using diesel fuel, are we clogging up the air we breathe for increased fuel efficiency?

Diesel cars have been steadily gaining in popularity for some time, and for obvious reasons. They’re more fuel efficient, they produce less CO2 as a result are cheaper to drive. Great news all round. Except now there are serious health concerns about the nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions these engines produce.

To combat this, cities around the world are introducing extra charges and levies against diesel drivers in an attempt to reduce air pollution. From being the favoured power source for cabbies, truck, van and lorry drivers – and anyone who wants to save on fuel costs – diesel is now becoming the enemy.

The continued bad press and imposed costs mean people are now turning back to petrol cars (in fact, 2015 could be the first year since 2011 that petrol cars outsell diesel ones). Funnily enough, the environment still isn’t the main reason for this switch as electric and hybrid cars make up just 0.5% of the cars on the UK roads. Although this number is beginning to rise as technology improves the range of these vehicles.

The real problem with diesel is that the criticisms are true. Older diesel cars are contributing to air pollution and the EU are getting the knives out.

By September 1 2015, all new diesel cars must conform to Euro-6 standards – the sixth set of standards from the EU. By blocking 99% of all soot emissions, the cars send out 84% less NOx than before making them some of the cleanest cars in the world.

The thing is, this might be too late. Paris may become diesel-free by 2020, while London wants to increase the congestion charge for those using the fuel. So are we seeing the last days of diesel?

It’s certainly possible. The problem is that even with Euro-6 standards coming into force, millions of older models will still be driving around polluting our cities.

The RAC have suggested a scrappage scheme where if you recycled your old diesel car, you’ll get a sum of money towards a new, cleaner one (the RAC suggested £100 – woohoo).

Of course, if you’re not looking to sell or simply can’t afford a new car, that doesn’t help much. What we really need to see is better PR from the industry so they shake off their current anti-environmental image.

Because according to a YouGov poll, 87% of people don’t even know about new, cleaner models being produced to EU standards. So clearly there needs to be more noise made about this before diesel cars become a complete pariah.

We don’t want to lose the fuel efficiency of diesel or, more importantly, the choice to buy what we want to.

So do you think this new Euro-6 cars will be enough to save diesel vehicles? Would a scrappage scheme work or should we just get them banned altogether? Click here to visit our Facebook page and let us know.

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