Motoring Chiefs Call for End to Nonsense Charges for Diesel Drivers

Motoring Chiefs Call for End to Nonsense Charges for Diesel Drivers
Car bosses are today declaring war on ‘ill-informed’ councils which unfairly penalise millions of motorists with extra charges for driving diesel cars. The move comes after Islington council, north London, introduced a £96 ‘surcharge’ on residents who park their diesel cars outside their homes. Council bosses justified the decision, saying they want to encourage drivers to switch to greener vehicles, but motoring bosses from Ford, Jaguar and BMW called for an end to such measures.

Speaking at a press conference today, industry chiefs said the measures make ‘no sense’, coming after years of encouraging people to buy diesel cars to reduce CO2 emissions.

Critics have condemned the move as a cynical anti-car revenue-raiser – saying taxi drivers, plumbers, builders and anyone who uses their vehicle for business will be exempt from the tax. They also say that ‘ill-founded’ attacks could cost thousands of jobs in UK car factories building ultra-modern diesel engines for Britain and for export.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said it wanted to ‘put the record straight’ on diesel cars with new campaign designed to ‘challenge the increasing demonisation of diesel’. It is publishing a new YouGov poll showing that nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of motorists are against imposing penalties on the cleanest diesel cars.

An SMMT spokesman said: ‘There is widespread confusion about diesel technology that, if uncorrected, could limit adoption of the latest low emission vehicles and to undermine the UK’s efforts to meet strict air quality and climate change obligations.’ The spokesman added: ‘We are also urging policy makers and those considering imposing local measures to avoid confusing motorists by penalising one fuel technology over another.’

The YouGov poll said more than half of those questioned (54 per cent) incorrectly blamed cars and commercial vehicles as the biggest cause of air pollution in the UK. In fact power stations are the biggest contributor, with one coal-fired plant producing as much nitrogen oxide as 42million modern diesel cars – four times the number currently on the road.

The SMMT noted that without diesel, average fuel use for new cars in the UK would be 11per cent higher – adding an extra £315million per year in fuel bills for British drivers.

Since 2002, buyers choosing diesel have prevented almost 3 million tonnes of CO2 from going into the atmosphere.

This year alone nearly 900,000 diesel engines worth £2.8billion to the UK economy – including the new Euro-6 units – will be produced in the UK, of which 85per cent will be exported.  Last year car manufacturers invested £1billion in British production facilities, creating 1,700 jobs.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘Today’s diesel engines are the cleanest ever, and the culmination of billions of pounds of investment by manufacturers to improve air quality.

‘Bans and parking taxes on diesel vehicles therefore make no sense from an environmental point of view. We need to avoid penalising one vehicle technology over another and instead encourage the uptake of the latest low emission vehicles by consumers.’ He added: ‘The allegations against diesel cars made in recent months threaten to misguide policy making and undermine public confidence in diesel. It’s time to put the record straight.’

From 1 September this year all new cars must meet the new Euro-6 emissions standard ‘making them the cleanest in history’, say motor manufacturers. Yet nine out of 10 people surveyed said they have never heard of the term.