The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has published figures suggesting that reports of the death of diesel have been greatly exaggerated.
It found that more British car buyers registered a new diesel car than ever before, with almost a quarter of a million new diesel cars representing an all-time high. In 2016, a record 1.3 million new diesel cars were registered in the UK, up 0.6% on the previous year – a trend that’s continuing in 2017 with March figures higher than any month in history.
The SMMT added that diesel can still play a key role in tackling climate change and pollution in urban areas, pointing out that diesel cars emit, on average, 20% lower CO2 than petrol equivalents and that since 2002 diesel cars have saved 3.5 million tonnes of CO2 from going into the atmosphere.
It also found that almost one in every two new cars registered in the UK is a diesel, with buyers valuing their high performance and low fuel consumption. On average, diesels use 20% less fuel than like for like petrol models, while more than 99% of the UK’s 4.4 million commercial vehicles are powered by diesel, covering over 61 billion miles every year.
Meanwhile, advanced diesel technology has virtually eliminated emissions of particulate matter, while the latest Euro 6 vehicles are the cleanest in history and classed as low emission, meaning drivers of these vehicles will be free to enter London’s Low Emission Zones without charge.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, ‘Euro 6 diesel cars on sale today are the cleanest in history. Not only have they drastically reduced or banished particulates, sulphur and carbon monoxide but they also emit vastly lower NOx than their older counterparts – a fact recognised by London in their exemption from the Ultra Low Emission Zone that will come into force in 2019. Some recent reports have failed to differentiate between these much cleaner cars and vehicles of the past. This is unfair and dismissive of progress made. In addition to their important contribution to improving air quality, diesel cars are also a key part of action to tackle climate change while allowing millions of people, particularly those who regularly travel long distances, to do so as affordably as possible.’