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There has been a lot of press recently in relation to the Diesel car market and how bad it is for the environment, which has caused uncertainty and concern for those of us that are conscious of our carbon footprint. This article is a matter of opinion, experience and a view point on the market today, but is not intended to be in favour nor against any particular method of transport.

Diesel Cars and Carbon Footprint

If you are looking for the best most carbon neutral method of transport, then walking would be the best bet, you still carry a carbon footprint in the resources used to create your shoe leather but ultimately it is safe to say that you are fairly carbon neutral. Next up would be the bicycle, which whilst having a larger carbon footprint in the build of the bicycle, once you have it causes very little footprint. All jokes aside though, given that the daily commute typically requires a lengthier journey lets have a look at car and diesel options.

Diesel Cars

As a child brought up in the 1980’s I seem to remember being told that Diesel was better for the environment that a petrol car as it was a bi product of petrol and as such was definitely the way forward. I also remember the old diesels being noisy and no where near as exciting to drive. Now we were sold a bit of a lie in the 1980’s given diesel in not so much a bi product of petrol so much as it is a result of the refining process of crude oil, so yes you can refine crude oil into diesel and is an efficient way of refining oil, but it was not like there were massive surpluses of diesel in the 1980’s that we needed to use to save the environment.

Since 1992 Europe-wide Euro emissions were introduced, set up by scientists and ratified into European law by governments. These standards were designed to clamp down on the building of motor vehicles and ensure that tight guidelines were in place to make cars more efficient and environmentally sound. The initial Euro 1 guidelines forced all new cars to have a Catalytic converter fitted as standard and we can probably all remember the expense of these when they went wrong.

As time has gone by these standards have been improving and growing and forcing manufacturers to look at how they are producing cars and how they can improve on how the vehicles run. You will find that nearly all diesel cars today are fitted with a DPF filter (Diesel Particulate Filter), designed to filter out some of the bad stuff and in turn reduce CO2 emissions. AdBlue is now becoming standard on these cars too with the same aim in mind and manufacturers are being mindful of what they need to do to improve the emissions of cars.

Whilst we are talking about manufacturers it is fair to briefly talk about the Volkswagen scandal and the cheat devises that were fitted to falsify data under test conditions. The reason this was headline news in the USA in Nox emissions is one of the tested substances on cars in the USA. Within Europe we do not use the Nox emissions in the same way and as such whilst the cars may have cheated the data results in the UK they were not used to calculate how bad the cars are for the environment.

Needless to say though the problem with how bad a car is for the environment is regulated by Euro Emissions laws and manufacturers do as much as is necessary to pass the tests on the cars. They do not push boundaries and make cars any more environmentally friendly than they need to but they do adhere to any standard that is forced upon them by European law.

It is safe to say that every year Diesel cars and Petrol for that matter improve on efficiency and emissions and they still have a way to go in improving further but the people that regulate what emissions are emitted need to push further and perhaps have more realistic road condition tests to ensure that what they are really wanting manufacturers to do is in fact being done. We cant just sit back and blame a manufacturer for building air polluting diesel cars that are not friendly to the environment if we are dictating to them what is good for the environment and what is not. It is a bit disingenuous of the Government to suddenly decide that diesel cars need additional taxation requirements because they are so polluting when the government itself has been regulating the production and environmentally friendly nature of these cars since 1992. They may as well fine themselves for their own failures in their tenure of regulating the industry.

That said it is interesting times ahead. Manufacturers are all reducing engine sizes, getting more power output, better fuel economy and reduced emissions across their ranges and I imagine that more stringent testing and reduced emission figures will be pushed on the production of new vehicles in the future.

In April 2017 the Government put an additional tax on vehicles being registered and a fresh set of increases have been announced coming into effect in April 2018. The current stance seems to be to penalise new vehicles at the source and have increased road fund licence taxes to cater for poorer emissions than they would like and to appease those calling for better air quality. I personally think they need to look at better regulation and testing than this current measure which to the outsider would appear to be more of a tax on the motor industry as a source of revenue rather than trying to tackle a problem head on.

The government have announced that by 2040 no diesel or Petrol vehicles will be produced leading way to Electric vehicles to become mainstream in the market. Whilst this is an admirable goal it is at present expecting a market to emerge in 22 years which currently has insufficient infrastructure and not enough range in the products on the market to be able to cater for such a change. But technology does move quickly and if all the streets in the UK can have charging points added to them or some form of 5 minute rapid charge technology can be created at a petrol station then this could be a viable future but for now the Electric car remains at best a really good second car for local journeys or the perfect car if your daily commute is about 25-50 miles and you have a driveway you can charge your car on. It is also fair to say that the carbon footprint on the build of an electric vehicle and subsequent drain on the national electric grid need to be looked at when looking at the carbon footprint of these cars.

So should I buy petrol or diesel? It is a really good question and at present unless you are based in London and quite possibly coming to other big UK cities it does not really make much difference in regard to how much you will be taxed. In relation to Car Leasing the tax is included throughout the contract so any charges are taken into account when paying your monthly rentals. All cars, petrol, diesel, Hybrid and Electric carry a carbon footprint and as an individual it is hard to pick the correct car in terms of environmentally sound or not. I would like the think the government will regulate the industry and continue to improve the standards of the cars on the road today and consumer choice really will be down to cost and fuel economy. The environmental stand point will be taken care of by the regulators of the industry and will continue to improve, but whilst we continue to need the ability to commute we can only factor in the cost. New cars are in theory better than used and are permanently being improved in terms of emissions, so it would be safe to say new is the new eco friendly way forward albeit you will have some form of footprint.

As mentioned at the start this is an article based on personal opinion and as a motor industry professional of 20 years plus have seen all manner of good and most recently bad new in the industry in relation to environmental friendliness of cars. We are all agreed that cars have an impact on the environment and in 26 years the government have had Euro Emissions standards in place. I think that they need to concentrate on improvements on regulation and stop increasing the road fund licence on cars. Going back to the being a child of the 80’s I remember the Road Fund Licence being introduced as a tax to cater for the repair of the roads, and quite possibly they should use some of the increases they have been introducing to improve roads, repair the ever increasing number of pot holes, rather than using it as a method to tax the motorist for driving cars that are being built to the standards regulated by the same people charging the tax.

Why not get in touch with us @car4leasing and let us know your thoughts?

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