Diesel ban? New ‘toxins tax’ could charge diesel cars £20 to enter UK cities
CPSL-Group produce the world’s only small scale Hydrogen refuelling station that could enable companies to completely avoid the ‘tax’.
All diesel vehicles can be converted to run on Hydrogen. Could this be the answer for diesel vehicles in cities?
With regulators plotting against diesel cars, we examine the facts behind diesel’s fall from grace and ask what’s the future holds
Diesel drivers in 35 towns and cities across England could soon be hit with a new, £20 a day ‘toxins tax’ and driving restrictions in city centres, according to new reports. These ‘taxes’ could avoided if the vehicles are converted to run on Hydrogen, or if Hydrogen powered vehicles such as the Renault Kangoo electric with Hydrogen range extender were used.
In a bid to improve local air quality, Andrea Leadsom, the environment secretary, is expected to unveil the Government’s plans later this week. They’re thought to apply to both private and commercial vehicles in major urban centres around the country.
The problem with finding alternative fuel sources is the availability of the fuel. CPSL-Group have solved this problem with their Hydrogen refuelling station that creates Hydrogen from rainwater and solar power on the roof. The fuel is produced on-site so a company has its own independant, free, fuel.
In nine of the 10 most polluted UK cities, the Government is said to be considering options such as issuing a ban on polluting vehicles from entering the most congested areas or issuing daily charges. In another 25 towns, commercial lorries, taxis and coaches would face similar bans and charges.
A ban on polluting vehicles would severly affect delivery compnaies that will be unable to make any deliveries in these areas, unless their vehicles have zero emmissions at the tail pipe.
Diesel drivers in London will also face new penalties in the future. The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is expected to announce that from 2019 the most polluting vehicles will be hit with the £12.50 ‘T-charge’ when entering any part of Greater London, inside the North Circular and South Circular roads. Currently, the newly introduced T-charge, which will come in from 23 October 2017, applies in the same area as the existing Congestion Charge.
Why did the UK Government first promote diesel to car buyers?
In 1998, then-Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown said diesel cars should be taxed less than petrol cars as they pollute fewer grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometre on average. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) estimates diesel cars emit 20 per cent less CO2 per kilometre than their petrol counterparts.
At the time, the Government was focused on cutting CO2 emissions, as these were linked to climate change, so diesel cars seemed the obvious mode of transport to promote. In 2001, Brown introduced the new Vehicle Excise Duty rates that taxed cars with low CO2 emissions less, and in doing so made the diesel option that bit more appealing compared to petrol.
A Hydrogen powered vehicle however, produces nothing at the tail pipe except water.
As a result of the new VED bands diesel car ownership surged from 13.8 per cent in 2001 to around 50 per cent today. In 2015 there were around 11.9 million diesel cars on UK’s roads, making ours one of the biggest diesel fleets in Europe.
Though broadly correct about the CO2 emissions benefits diesels have, ministers took nearly a decade to admit they had overlooked the health consequences of loacl air polloution from diesel cars. Former science minister Lord Drayson said that regulators at the time didn’t have a clear idea on the health effects from diesel emissions and that promoting the vehicles “in retrospect was the wrong policy.”
Studies have since shown that particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from diesel vehicles are detrimental to health. One of the most prominent studies linked air pollution to 40,000 premature deaths, stating that diesel cars play a major role in releasing toxins to the atmosphere.
Both NOx and particle matter emissions, the latter tiny microscopic particles that can penetrate lung tissue, have been linked to respiratory and circulatory diseases by doctors and researchers.
• Euro 6 emissions standards explained
Nearly 300 doctors, nurses and other health professionals from campaing group Doctors Against Diesel recently signed a letter urging the Government to do more to remove the current fleet of diesel cars due to their adverse health effects.
Greg Archer, clean vehicles director at campaign group Transport & Environment, said that the Volkswagen Dieselgate emissions scandal was also a big wake up call to the public, as it highlighted that real world emissions from cars are far above the quoted figures obtained under laboratory testing.
The VW emissions scandal along with recent studies showing the health consequences of diesel cars has put pressure on legislators to move the public away from buying diesel cars. Hydrogen is seen by many people as the only viable option. Electric vehicle are great but dont have the range necassary for professional services.
But before diesel is crucified on the emissions altar, it’s worth bearing in mind that diesel vehicles aren’t the only source of NOx and particle matter pollution. The European Environmental Agency points out that nearly a quarter of all NOx emissions comes from coal and other energy plants. Electric veghicles have no tail pipeemmissions but where and how the electricity is produced could put more pollution into the atmosphere by generating the electrcity.
Because EVs are on average 24 per cent heavier than their petrol or diesel counterparts, the study said their tyres will be under greater stress and wear out quicker, releasing particle matter emissions hidden in the rubber particle into the atmosphere at a faster rate.
Diesel ban in London and other cities
The prevailing consensus that diesel emissions are bad for health has led to many cities looking to ban them from their centres. The mayors of Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and Athens have said they’re looking to ban diesel cars from their centres by 2025. Hydrogen powered vehciels seem to be the only effective alternative in these cities. The Hydrogen though has to come from somewhere and this is where the HYdrogen refuelling station from CPSL-Group is sucha good solution.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, recently introduced a new £10 ‘toxicity’ charge, dubbed the ‘T-Charge’.
The fee will apply to drivers of petrol and diesel cars with pre-Euro 4 engines, broadly those registered before 2005, and will work alongside the existing £11.50 congestion charge during the same 7am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, window. The charge will run from 23 October 2017 onwards and is expected to affect up to 10,000 vehicles.
Image 5 of 22
Image 5 of 22
Khan’s plans to reduce pollution levels in the city also include expanding and expediting the Ultra Low Emissions Zone, as well as a faster roll-out of low-emissions double-decker buses.
• Diesel registrations fall in first month of 2017
The London mayor is proposing to introduce the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone a year earlier than planned in 2019, and extend it beyond central London from 2020 onwards to the North and South Circular. Cars, vans, lorries and buses which fail to meet the emissions criteria would be charged from £12.50 upwards. It has been agreed that Hydrogen powered vehicles will be except from these charges.
Scrappage scheme for diesel cars?
Back in 2009, the Government introduced a £300million plan called the Vehicle Scrappage Scheme. Owners of old cars and vans were encouraged to scrap their old vehicles in return for £1,000 payment from the Governments towards the purchase of a new car.
The idea was that older, more inefficient and higher polluting vehicles would be removed from the roads and replaced with new, environmentally friendly vehicles. The plans drew criticism from a number of motoring and financial organisations who questioned the economics and environmental gains.
• Diesel scrappage scheme: everything you need to know
There were hints that the Government may have implimented a scrappage scheme for diesel cars in the Spring 2017 budget, but they turned out to merely be rumours. However, there are still comments that it’s a good idea; The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has urged the Government to introduce a scrappage scheme for diesel cars and vans in London.
Transport secretary, Chris Grayling recently told the Daily Mail that people considering buying diesel cars should “take a long, hard think.” The minister has been said to be in favour of a diesel scrappage scheme.
Grayling also told the House of Commons: “We have to find the right way to migrate the nature of the cars on our roads and the vehicles on our roads to a point where they cause much less of a pollution problem than they do at the moment.”
The future of diesel
“Diesel is amidst a very vicious circle at the moment.” Greg Archer, clean vehicles director at campaign group Transport & Environment told Auto Express. According to Archer, diesel is facing pressure from three different fronts.
“The first is that diesel cars will have to pollute significantly less in the future. With real world emissions testing coming in the next few years, manufacturers will have to find solutions to make diesels pollute far less than they currently do under real world driving. This is going to bring up the cost of production for diesel cars which will make them even more expensive compared to petrol ones.
“The second pressure diesel cars will face is from new technologies like plug-in hybrids, HYdrogen and electric cars,” Archer says. “Finally”, he adds, “it’s pressure from cities and legislators. This I believe will be the most significant deterrent to diesel cars.”
Archer says that as more cities consider banning diesels or introducing extra taxes on polluting cars, consumers will quickly make the switch to greener fuels. But that’s not to say diesel cars will disappear overnight.
“We anticipate a market share of 40 to 45 per cent for new cars as an EU average by 2020, compared to 52 per cent today. After 2020, the market will continue to decline to around 30 to 25 per cent of new cars by 2025,” Archer says.
However, the Society of Manufacturers and Traders has pointed out that diesel cars are crucial to meeting the EU target of average new car CO2 emissions of 95g/km by 2021.
The SMMT has revealed average carbon tailpipe emissions from new cars reached an all-time low of 120.1g/km in 2016, much of it thanks to modern diesel engines that are far more efficient than older generations. It said the consumer shift to diesel cars “has been critical to this success.”
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive said: “The automotive industry has some of the most challenging CO2 reduction targets of any sector and continues to deliver reductions as it has for nearly two decades.
“For this positive trend to continue, modern low emission diesels and alternative fuel vehicles such as plug-ins, hydrogen and hybrids must be encouraged with long term incentives. Turning our back on any of these will undermine progress on CO2 targets as well as air quality objectives.”
The future of diesel according to industry executives
Reid Bigland, Alfa Romeo
“There’s no question that the daggers appear to be out for diesel, and it’s not just in Europe, it’s all over the world.
“The reality is that diesel is still the dominant powertrain in the EU market, but it sure seems today that it
will dwindle and forms of electrification seem to be the way the future is going.”
Rupert Stadler, Audi
“Being honest I am a bit sad about it, because with the Euro 6 norms, diesel is really a clean technology. Somehow, maybe because of the diesel issue and diesel scandal, the value of diesel is no longer recognised.
“We should never forget the mileage that is done is mainly driven by combustion engines. We have
not changed our strategy on diesel. But the cost for a diesel on the A0 [small] segment means it’ll probably disappear. But in the A, B or C [larger] segment where we have long-range usage, then the diesel is a proper engine.”
Wolfgang Durheimer, Bentley
“My forecast is that diesel engines in the future will be around for the bigger engines, but the smaller-displacement engine will be under high pressure, because the proportion of emissions you need to take care of will mean a remarkable cost jump.”
Linda Jackson, Citroen
“The shift from diesel is already happening, but it’s as much down to our excellent petrol engines rather than any strategic decisions we’ve made. And as our range grows to include electric and hybrid models, we’ll see that accelerate.”
Steve Armstrong, Ford of Europe
“As a fuel, diesel has a bit of a reputation and we need to work our way through that.
“But we see a combination of small EcoBoost-style petrol engines, 48V mild hybrid systems on some of those petrol engines and diesel still being part of the solution as we migrate to more electrification.”
Dr Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover
ting in new diesel technology. There is no other way. Hybridisation and electrification will take a while.
“In the UK, we are at a very high level. But in other regions of the world, they have more basic problems and they also need mobility. We have to give these guys the right internal combustion engines.”
Mike Manley, Jeep
“Diesel is absolutely going to be required. Smaller-displacement diesels are going to be very difficult to sustain with the level of technology required to comply with the standards.
“But if you also think of the demands of your overall fleet, it is inevitable that you have electrification. So then it is a balance. You want to make sure you fulfil what your customers are looking for on the marketplace as well as complying with the various regulations around the world.”
Jean-Philippe Imperato, Peugeot
“The day when the total cost of ownership of a hybrid solution is better than diesel, there will be a switch. When? Where? We don’t know. But when that comes there will be an impact. But always I [Peugeot] will have a diesel.”
Luca de Meo, SEAT
“I think the decline of diesel sales is more pushed by the cost of getting to the required level of emissions, which is much more than we need to on gasoline or electric cars.
“There will be a point where the cost of reaching Euro 7 or Euro 8 becomes more expensive. The success of diesel has always been the fact that you pay less for fuel; then technology improved and now we are on the verge of the next thing.”
Bernhard Maier, Skoda
“Diesel is still a wonderful engine that offers a lot of opportunities that will meet our customers’ demand.
“From a CO2 point of view, we really need diesel to meet the targets set by authorities. But the requirements to meet the targets are expensive. So it might be that diesel for smaller cars will not be so accessible as in the past. But for bigger cars we really need that engine. It’ll be more fun to drive in future than ever.”
Johng-Sik Choi, SsangYong
“As diesel is a very big challenge in the European market, a lot of manufacturers are switching their strategy from diesel to petrol with hybrid or the EV.
“Right now, to meet the regulatory requirements in Europe, we need a hybrid or EV programme or high-efficiency diesel powertrain. We are looking very seriously at the switch of our powertrain programme from diesel to petrol, so we are now developing 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre GDI [petrol] engines and we’ve recently decided to develop an EV programme.”
Johan van Zyl, Toyota
“I don’t think there will be a future where we can say there will be zero diesel vehicles. There will still be diesel vehicles, mostly in the bigger-sized engines, where you can utilise technologies and offset that in the price to make it environmentally friendly. Small cars will go towards hybrids and electric vehicles.”
Karl-Thomas Newmann, Opel/Vauxhall
“Diesel and the longevity of diesel? Electrification quicker than anticipated?
It’s a pity diesel got so much miscredit in the past two years, because we all desperately needed to achieve our goals.
“It can be a really clean engine, and the new diesels really are. And it can also be, and is, the most efficient combustion engine in terms of CO2 emissions and fuel consumption.
“But I think social acceptance of the diesel is going down, and that the ban from city centres of diesels is bad for consumer confidence. So I see diesel penetration is going to decline.”
Herbert Diess, Volkswagen
“Diesel is under pressure because of new emissions regulations. Diesel will become more expensive, because we [VW] have to add at least 1,000 Euros (£865) in additional equipment to make it compliant. I think diesel still has a lot of future because it is by far, in the heavier cars, an appropriate engine.
“You get high mileage, you get huge torque, but it will get more expensive and it will probably mean in the entry- level cars there will be a shift from diesel to gasoline. But it is still a great engine, and with the addition of after-treatment it will be very clean. Our Euro 6 diesels are the best cars you can buy in the industry when it comes to emissions. Diesel is not at its end.”
Hakan Samuelsson, Volvo
“We are committed to our four-cylinder engines, and until any legislation change in 2020, diesel has an important role to play. But Europe’s plan for diesel engines to emit the same NOx as petrol engines means diesels will cost more to develop and build. After 2021 we will see more Volvos with electrification. By 2025 there’ll be an electric option on all Volvos.”
What does Auto Express think about diesel cars?
Despite the public attention towards diesel emissions, there’s no simple answer to whether you should buy a diesel or a non-diesel car. The important bit is to do your homework very carefully before buying a new car, as it’s very easy to buy a car badly, and very hard to buy a car well.
Any buyer has to think about future-proofing themselves when buying a car – thinking about their needs and finances during the ownership period.
Unfortunately, with legislators swaying different ways over diesel at the moment, it’s very difficult to know which way to go – diesel still makes sense for those doing longer journeys and especially in larger vehicles. But do all the sums first to make sure it makes sense for you. And be aware that it seems that future legislation, and possibly taxation, could well penalise diesels – especially in urban areas.
We’re also seeing petrol engines become more and more efficient and alternative-fuel vehicles become more and more attractive. All of which puts additional pressure on diesel models.
3 Apr, 2017 9:00am Martin Saarinen