RAC Cars News


SMMT Defends Diesel

By raccars Published

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The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), has taken up the gauntlet on behalf of beleaguered diesel car owners, hosting an inner city air quality debate. The discussion included transport policy makers and vehicle manufacturers, who came together in London to debate the use of diesel powered commercial vehicles and air quality improvement measures.

The SMMT is making a case for modern, low-emission diesel engines against a tide of recent rhetoric against the fuel. This includes a plan by London Mayor, Boris Johnson and MPs, to introduce a diesel car scrappage scheme, the raising of residents' parking permit charges for diesel cars in Islington and a plan to ban diesel cars from Paris by 2020. Shadow environment minister, Barry Gardiner, admits that the previous Labour government was mistaken to encourage car buyers to choose diesel on the basis that it was a cleaner fuel than petrol.

The SMMT argues that modern diesels are far cleaner than they used to be - 95% cleaner than older models. Billions of pounds have been spent by auto manufacturers bringing diesel engines up to super clean Euro 6 emissions standards, which will become mandatory for new cars from September this year.

However, it seems commercial vehicles, including buses and lorries, are letting the side down, with only 20% of diesel buses using the latest Euro 6 compliant systems. A loophole in current government legislation allows bus operators to run dirtier, older vehicles, which increases pollution dramatically and could see the UK subject to EU air quality fines. Trucks are also under fire, with 30% still not using Euro 6 compliant technology.

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, used the debate to call upon local councils and the government to co-operate with the commercial vehicle industry, to encourage the uptake of modern diesel engine technology, which has the potential to make huge improvements to the UK's air quality. The debate included speeches by the transport minister, John Hayes MP, local council members from Manchester, London and Scotland and chief Greenpeace scientist, Doug Parr.

Ninety nine per cent of the UK's 4.4 million buses and trucks are diesel powered, and if all of these adopted Euro 6 compliant technology, Nitrogen Oxide emissions could be reduced by 95%, thanks to Nox and particulate filters. The European Commission has suggested that this would see the UK meet the 2020 clean air targets, for which it will, otherwise, face hundreds of millions of pounds in fines.

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