Car makers offer cash incentives to trade in older diesels

As buyers consider getting rid of their older diesel cars, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are launching trade-in schemes designed to get more of us driving low-emissions cars

Words ByDarren Moss

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Owners of older diesel vehicles will receive an incentive of up to Β£2000 when they trade in their old car for a new BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Mini.

The new plans are designed to reduce the pollution caused by diesel cars, as well as increasing the uptake of low-emissions cars in the UK. Despite the sales of such cars increasing by more than 30% over the last year, they still account for just 4.3% of the total market.


To qualify for BMW's incentive, owners must trade in diesel cars which comply with Euro 4 emissions standards or less. Euro standards set the limits for emissions from new cars, with the first standard, Euro 1, being introduced in 1992. The Euro 4 standard applies to cars registered from 2006, and lasted until 2011 when it was supplanted by Euro 5. That means any diesel car registered prior to 2011 is likely to be eligable for BMW's discount. Owners can check if their car qualifies here.

Buyers will be offered up to Β£2000 to trade in their cars – although that amount is graded depending on which vehicle you're buying.

Rather than giving drivers actual cash, the value of the incentive must be put towards buying a new BMW or Mini. In particular, it must be either a BMW i3, a plug-in hybrid car (such as the BMW 3 Series 330e or the Mini Countryman S E All4) or a car that complies with the most modern Euro 6 emissions limits, with CO2 emissions of less than 130g/km.

That means owners will be able to choose from the majority of BMW's range, including multiple versions of the 5 Series luxury saloon, which is our Car of the Year for 2017. Some of the brand's larger SUVs do not qualify, though. BMW says that 80% of its range qualifies for the discount, alongside 70% of Mini models.

BMW also hasn't specified what it will do with the cars that owners trade in. The oldest models will likely be scrapped – although BMW is keen not to call this offer a 'scrappage scheme' – with others sold on as used vehicles.

This is especially good news if you're buying a plug-in hybrid or electric car, because BMW's incentive is on top of the Government's existing electric vehicle grant, which takes a maximum of Β£4500 off your purchase price. Therefore, if you trade in an older car and receive Β£2000 from BMW, plus a further Β£4500 from the government, you can put Β£6500 towards the cost of a new i3 – meaning the Β£33,070 will actually cost you Β£26,570. What Car?'s Target Price on the i3 is currently Β£28,570.

BMW's incentive is also in addition to its current discounts and offers, and could prove especially useful if buying on finance, where the Β£2000 incentive could be used to top up the deposit on a PCP offer. BMW says this means drivers could come away with a new BMW or Mini for Β£155 or Β£130 per month respectively.

BMW's scheme will initially run until the end of this year.


Like BMW, Mercedes-Benz is offering owners of older diesels (again, up to and including Euro 4 models) up to Β£2000 if they trade in their car. If you also opt for a Smart Electric Drive car, that bonus rises to Β£3000.

Cars being traded in can be from any brand, but must have been owned by the current driver for at least six months.

Drivers can choose from any Mercedes diesel car complying with the latest Euro 6 standards, as well as any plug-in hybrid or the aforementioned electric Smart models – which come in Smart Fortwo and Forfour forms. As with BMW, this incentive is in addition to the Government's own subsidy for electric vehicles.

Mercedes will give owners of cars that meet Euro 3 standards (typically those built before 2001) additional compensation from their cars being scrapped, with the amount determined using data from CAP, which provides used car values.

Like BMW, Mercedes will offer its incentive until the end of 2017.

More information can be found on the Mercedes website.


Volkswagen has released details of a similar scheme in Germany, where drivers can trade in their older diesel cars and receive up to €10,000 towards the cost of a new car. A similar scheme is understood to be coming to the UK soon, and this would likely apply across the whole of the Volkswagen Group, which also includes the Audi, Seat and Skoda brands.

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