Dieselgate as it’s now known, began in 2015, when the Volkswagen Group were slapped with a violation of the Clean Air Act. The (EPA) uncovered the fact Volkswagen had programmed it’s TDI diesel engines with ‘Defeat Devices’. The software reduced NOx (Nitrogen Oxides) output under laboratory testing, but during real world driving could emit up to 40 times more NOx emissions than legally allowed. Of the 11 Million Volkswagen vehicles fitted with ‘Defeat Devices’ 1.2 Million of those were sold in the UK. Volkswagen aren’t the only manufacturer to be caught up in the emissions scandal. Though not using ‘Defeat Devices’, Hyundai, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and Mazda’s vehicles, among others, have all been found to emit significantly more pollution during real world driving than in regulatory tests.
A 2015 report by (DEFRA) showed that in 2013, there were 23,500 ‘Annual Equivalent Attributable’ deaths in the UK caused by NOx. The unnecessary loss of life came with a hefty social cost, 13.3 Billion to be exact. A study by J E Jonson et al. (2017) on the impact of excess NOx emissions from diesel cars, found that 10,000 premature deaths in the UK were caused by PM2.5 (PM2.5 refers to atmospheric particulate matter that have a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres) and ozone which is attributed to the NOx emissions from diesel cars and light commercial vehicles. In an effort to provide a real solution to toxic air pollution in the UK, the government announced plans to ban all new diesel and petrol cars and vans by 2040. So where does that leave the diesel driver?
When the government announced its 2040 diesel ban, a government scrappage scheme was thought to be in the works. As part of her ‘Clean Air Strategy’, Theresa May ordered officials to outline a scrappage scheme that considered a state subsidy of £2000. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said, “For years government has incentivised and encouraged people to purchase diesel cars; it is only fair that it now helps people to switch to cleaner alternatives.” However, true to form, the government has made a U-turn. In March this year the governments muted national scrappage scheme was itself scrapped. A government statement read, “A targeted scheme would be difficult to deliver, but we continue to welcome the manufacturer-led scrappage schemes as a way to help some owners of older vehicles to purchase a cleaner vehicle”.
So, diesel drivers won’t be getting a scrappage subsidy from the state. However, an increasing number of car manufacturers are offering incentives and scrappage schemes on older diesel and petrol vehicles. BMW, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Audi, and Volkswagen, are offering between £1000 and £8000 to get consumers to ‘Ditch the Diesel’ in favour of low or zero emissions cars. To be eligible the vehicle you trade must meet certain criteria. If your vehicle complies with Euro 1-4 emissions standards it qualifies. You can check your vehicles status here. The government may not be offering a scrappage scheme, but it is offering a ‘Plug-in Car and Van Grant’. £8000 is offered towards the purchase of low emission vans, and £4500 is offered toward the cost of hybrid or electric vehicles. You’ll need to be quick of the mark to take advantage, as the grant will be reviewed in October 2018, meaning the amount offered may drop. It’s also worth noting there is no vehicle tax on certain electric cars. Other incentives include, the ‘Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme’, the ‘Workplace Charging Scheme’, and the ‘On-street Residential Charging Scheme’.
The landscape for diesel owners looks pretty bleak. Just this week, Sadiq Khan, alongside leaders from the West Midlands and Manchester, lobbied Michael Gove to bring the diesel ban forward from 2040 to 2030. Collapse in demand for diesel has led Fiat Chrysler to abandon the making of diesel passenger vehicles by 2022. Toyota, the largest motor manufacturer in the world, announced after December 2018, it will no longer sell diesel vehicles in the UK, and Subaru have pledged that as of next year they will no longer make diesel passenger cars. The future is no longer green-ish, the future is GREEN! The future is ‘Clean Air Zones’! The future is zero emissions and ELECTRIC, whether you like it or not!