Low emission diesel cars: not as smelly as you might think

Low emission diesel cars

Diesel cars have come on hugely since it was first used to fuel the Fiesta in 1984 (Picture © Ford)

Low emission diesel cars are just as friendly for the planet as battery driven or petrol-electric hybrids. That’s the message from car manufacturer trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Its campaign comes after new consumer research revealed that the majority of UK adults – incorrectly – blame cars and commercial vehicles as the biggest cause of air pollution in the UK. 

Low emission diesel cars: What the research found
Responding to a YouGov poll, 87 per cent of UK adults were unaware of the latest vehicle emission technology, dubbed Euro 6. This limits the harmful pollutants diesel cars can pump out. More than half (54 per cent) incorrectly blamed cars and commercial vehicles as the biggest cause of air pollution in the UK. And just under one in five (19 per cent) correctly identified that power stations are the biggest contributors of harmful nitrogen oxides.

Low emission diesel cars: Which really are the biggest polluters
According to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the biggest contributor to NOx emissions in the UK is electricity generation at 30 per cent. It is followed by heating on 25 per cent, non road transport on 17 per cent, cars on 14 per cent and heavy duty vehicles on 13 per cent. For more info on diesel cars go to Dieselfacts.

Low emission diesel cars: How clean are they really?
Chairman and managing director of Ford UK, Mark Ovenden said: “It’s important to underline that today’s and tomorrow’s advanced diesel powertrains are vastly cleaner than in the past and are approaching parity with petrol engines when it comes to emissions that affect air quality, while at the same time delivering important CO2 benefits.” And Graeme Grieve, CEO BMW Group UK, added: “Diesel cars produce, on average, 20 per cent less CO2 than equivalent petrol cars and so have a vital role to play in helping to arrest climate change. It is only if British drivers continue to choose diesel cars that the UK can meet its tough CO2 targets.”

Low emission diesel cars: What are the EU CO2 targets?
In 2007 average carbon dioxide emissions for new cars in the UK were 164.9g/km. For 2015, the EU target was 130g/km. The UK hit that in 2013 with the average new car sold emitting 128.3g/km of CO2. For 2020, the EU target stipulates that the average new car can only put out 95g/km.

Low emission diesel cars: What is the problem with diesel?
The public perception is that diesel cars are dirty and smelly. This is exacerbated by one in three of the cars on the road being powered by diesel. On average diesel cars cover 60 per cent more miles than their petrol counterparts. But some local authorities in London want to charge diesel-owning residents more than equivalent petrol cars to park outside their homes. This is despite almost three quarters (72 per cent) of drivers opposing penalties for the cleanest cars.

Low emission diesel cars: How clean are they?
New diesel cars are among the cleanest on the road. Filters capture more than 99 per cent of the harmful particles released when diesel is burnt. And new tests are going to include ‘real world’ emission testing. From September 1, 2015, all new cars must meet the Euro 6 emissions standard which defines what an acceptable level of pollution from an engine is.

Low emission diesel cars: A simple fact
The next time someone tries to tell you that cars are the root of all pollution evil, here’s a tasty nugget to counter with. It would take 42 million Euro 6 diesel cars – almost four times the number on the roads – to generate the same nitrogen oxides as one UK coal-fired power station.

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