Talking after a JLR-commissioned survey revealed the car-buying public doesn’t know the facts about latest-generation diesel engines or wider issues around pollution, Hicks said: “There has been a seismic shift in diesel technology, almost eliminating NOx emissions. Nobody is trying to ban Euro 6 engines in London, or Stuttgart or other cities looking to cut pollution, to be fair, but the impression is being given that all diesels are the same – and it causes confusion and creates false impressions.
“Here is the truth: if you care about air quality in our cities, there is nothing wrong with buying a modern diesel car.”
In support of his reasoning, Hicks explained that particulate emissions from diesel engines had been reduced by 95% in the past decade as a result of the introduction of diesel particulate filters (DPFs). He also highlighted that a cow emits as much CO2 in a year as a petrol car driving 8000 miles and that domestic woodburners accounted for 17% of PM2.5 particulates in 2013 and road transport 18%.
“I don’t want to stereotype, but I can imagine a well-intentioned person deciding against buying a diesel car for environmental reasons as they sling another log onto the wood-burning stove thinking they are returning to nature,” said Hicks. “If air quality is going to improve, our vision has to be broader and our focus sharper than just the private motorist.”
Heading for a "mobility revolution"
Hicks added that the car industry should be seen as part of the solution, as it was investing billions of pounds in developing new, cleaner means of personal transport - money generated through the sales of today’s cars.
“Those sales provide the resource we use to invest in developing new powertrains,” said Hicks. “We are moving to a mobility revolution and it would be tragic for our environment if those developments were delayed because of the negative impact a mishandled, misinformed ‘diesel debate’ had on our industry.”
Industry body the Society for Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) added that the ongoing popularity of diesel among car buyers showed that its advantages were still understood by many.
“Diesel cars continue to be a popular choice for consumers in the UK. Nearly half of new cars registered are diesels, with buyers valuing their high performance and low fuel consumption," said Tamzen Isacsson, SMMT Director of Communications and International.
"In 2016 more diesel cars were registered than ever before, and March 2017 was the biggest ever month for diesel purchases. Manufacturers are investing billions to develop a range of low-emissions technologies to give consumer choice. Vehicles on sale today have never been cleaner or safer – from advanced Euro-6 diesels and petrols, to hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles. Each serves a different need, reflecting the differing demands of motorists and the type of journeys they undertake.”
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