This March, almost a quarter of a million new diesel cars were registered in Britain, which is an all-time high. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has put together 10 key points, revealing why they are so popular, including the important role they can play in helping improve air quality and tackling climate change.
10 positive facts about driving diesel
- In 2016, 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. This March, more buyers chose a new diesel car than in any other month in history, with almost quarter of a million leaving showrooms.
- Diesel plays a crucial role in reducing CO2 emissions and tackling climate change – on average, diesel cars emit 20% lower CO2 than petrol-engine equivalents. Since 2002, diesel cars have saved 3.5 million tonnes of CO2 from going into the atmosphere.
- Nearly one in every two new cars registered in the UK is a diesel, with buyers rating their performance and low fuel consumption. On average, diesels use 20% less fuel than like-for-like petrol models – diesel drivers typically cover 60% more miles than petrol drivers.
- Over 99% of the UK’s 4.4 million commercial vehicles are powered by diesel, travelling 61 billion miles every year.
- Advanced diesel technology has virtually eliminated emissions of particulate matter, with 99% of soot particulates captured by special filters fitted to all new diesel cars since 2011. About half of diesels on the road now boast a DPF.
- Latest Euro 6 vehicles are the cleanest ever; as well as utilising special filters, they also feature technology that converts most of the NOx from the engine into harmless water and nitrogen before it reaches the exhaust.
- Euro 6 technology works: real-world tests using a London bus route show a 95% drop in NOx compared with previous generation Euro 5 buses. If every older bus operating in the capital were replaced with a Euro 6 version, total NOx emissions in London would fall by 7.5%.
- Latest Euro 6 cars are categorised as low emission for the purposes of the London Ultra Low Emission Zone due to come into force in 2019. This means that drivers of these vehicles will be free to enter the zone without facing a levy.
- Contrary to recent reports, diesel cars are not the main source of urban NOx. In London, gas heating of homes and offices is the biggest contributor. While road transport overall is responsible for around 50% of London’s NOx, diesel cars produce 11% (although concentrations will vary at different times depending on congestion levels) – keeping traffic moving is the key to keeping emissions low.
- In September 2017, a new official EU-wide emissions testing system will come into force. For the first time, this will involve on-road testing to better reflect the many different conditions involved in real-world driving, like speed, congestion, road conditions and style of driving. This will be the world’s toughest-ever emissions standard.
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.”
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Data sources: SMMT, SMMT Motorparc data 2015, Transport for London Bus Fleet Audit, January 2017; TfL Air Quality Consultation, October 2016, Transport Emissions Roadmap, September 2014 (Source: Transport for London)