Any surcharge on diesel cars could impact the insurance sector, making replacement like-for-like vehicles more expensive to buy or hire following an accident. Then there are the huge numbers of diesel-engined fleet vehicles being used by the insurance, parts and accident repair industries.
The latest from the RAC, replying to suggestions that the Government is considering a surcharge or tax on the sale of new diesel vehicles:
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: “We might be just over 20 years from the Government’s own deadline for ending the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles, but it seems intent on dissuading as many of us from opting for diesel as possible.
“We are concerned that those who drive long distances, business drivers especially, might consider sticking with their older diesels given the superior economy they offer. It would be a terrible misjudged ‘knee-jerk’ reaction which could backfire and have the unexpected effect of encouraging these owners of older diesels and fleets not to
upgrade to newer, cleaner diesels which offer significant benefits in reduced emissions.
“This isn’t what the Government, or any of us, want and is the opposite of what is needed from an air quality perspective. However, it would also be grossly unfair to penalise owners of current diesel vehicles.
“The irony is that the next generation of diesel engines which manufacturers are developing right now are likely to be as clean as their petrol equivalents – so while a new tax might be logical in the short term, this logic will likely not apply within a year or so.
“The possibility of a sudden rush to petrol engines also risks a new rise in CO2 emissions, precisely what previous governments tried to avoid by encouraging drivers into diesel vehicles.”
We have been here before. In the late 1990s governments across Europe were promoting diesel cars as being inherently greener – and almost twice as economical on fuel – than petrol-engined models. That claim seems laughable now. In the rush to promote `clean air’ policies today the diesel engine is being blamed as the number one culprit.
But in targeting private cars, not diesel lorries, buses or trains – all of which pour out highly visible blue smoke every day – politicians risk a voter backlash from those drivers who were persuaded to go green, and are now faced with losing thousands in PX value.
Fleet managers will also be faced with extra costs in replacing existing diesel car & van stock. Electric vehicles simply do not cut it as everyday reliable, long-distance transport and until they do, a clean 1 litre – 1.4 litre diesel is just as green as any petrol car.