How events can suddenly take an unexpected turn when a large company does something naughty. Although your editor has, quite rightly, recommended that we sit tight, put a brave face on things and just see how events pan out. I have a bad feeling about the outcome of this affair. There’s quite a hard core of anti-diesel lobbyists that were just waiting for something like this to happen. Thanks to a certain company, the anti-diesel campaigners have been gifted this one!
I’m a subscriber to the Fair Fuel Campaign and I was surprised by some of the things that are being discussed concerning proposals here and abroad, basically, it would seem, to kill off the diesel car. I have noticed the following suggestions, some of which seem rather disturbing:
1. The proposal here to introduce a scrappage incentive for older diesels.
2. A generous French incentive for new car buyers to move from diesels to other fuels.
3. The threat of increasing drastically the UK fuel duty on diesel fuel.
4. Introducing an environmental tax on new diesel cars.
5. Banning all diesels from city centres.
The incentive to get rid of old diesels I would go along with. I’ve seen some pretty smoky ones lately. But the French proposal is the most worrying and one that I’ll bet will be proposed here sooner rather than later.
Just out of interest, earlier in the year I was in La Gomera where one of my fellow holiday makers in the next door cottage was a retired scientist from one of the major oil companies. He was quite convinced that the diesel car will be killed off within the next five to ten years. He reckoned they’ve seen this coming in the industry for years.
Mike Arnold, Barnstaple
It is easy to get rather depressed about the situation, but I feel that the EC and its regulatory authorities are mostly responsible. What have they been doing all these recent years when these affected cars have been on sale? Apparently they’ve not even been aware of the deception – can we really believe that? What is happening in the USA, where the emissions limits of the key pollutants are lower, shows that it is quite possible to clean up diesel – although admittedly at a cost. The fact that petrol alternatives are unavailable for many heavier cars shows that, in that market sector, diesel is by far the best (and sometimes only) choice, and the costs are still covered by the fuel savings – as is clearly the case for HGVs and PSVs.
As we are beginning to realise, the position of diesels at the small and cheaper end of the car market, with low annual mileages, is possibly untenable. But the tempting “on-paper” figures for the fuel economy of many middle-market petrol cars are not reproducible in real life – and again this is the result of unrealistic test cycles. Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost models turn in about 45mpg in real life motoring, about 20mpg down on the EC Combined figure. So I don’t quite share your feelings of doom, but it certainly is going to get tough.
But there are shortcomings with regard to the medical evidence for the levels of mortality as a result or diesel pollution that are being touted around – actually some 10 per cent of all annual deaths (50,000 in 500,000 UK annual deaths) which is quite obviously farcical. If you were to take out the country dwellers, and people who never go into polluted cities, the figures suggest that maybe 20 plus per cent of UK city dwellers are being killed by diesel pollution! They’ve had years to sort out the dirty taxis and buses and yet many still sit there, chugging away at bus stops and on taxi ranks, with their engines running non-stop. That’s the sort of thing that wants firm regulation.
But if your retired oil scientist has “seen this coming… for years” then someone should have been telling the motor industry, which has been investing heavily in diesel power for many years, and still is! Thanks for your thoughts though Mike. Regards,