The Sunday Times Driving Placeholder

News: £10 pollution charge set to spell end of diesel discount

About half of all cars now sold are diesel


Diesel cars

CHARGES on diesel cars are likely to make them more expensive to run than petrol models for most motorists, new figures reveal.

Drivers of most pre-2015 diesel cars will have to pay a pollution charge of £10 a day to enter central London from 2020 under plans designed to reduce deaths and illnesses linked to emissions. Other British cities including Bristol, Birmingham and Leicester are considering similar proposals in order to meet European air quality targets, and ministers are under pressure to increase taxes on diesel. Only petrol cars registered before 2006 will be affected.

It will add to the cost of motoring for many drivers — about half of all new cars sold are diesel models — at a time when the cost advantages of running diesel cars are being eroded by new efficient petrol engines and hybrids. In some cases it can take more than a decade for the lower running costs of diesel cars to make up for their higher showroom price. If you bought the diesel-powered Peugeot 208 1.4HDi Access +, it would take 33 years, or almost 400,000 miles of motoring, for its superior fuel economy to make up the £3,000 purchase price difference from the petrol-powered 208 1.0 VTi.

The difference between the running costs of most popular petrol and diesel cars is less extreme but it will commonly take more than four years for cheaper fuel costs to make up for a diesel car’s higher purchase price.

Even when all of a car’s running costs are added, and the higher resale value of diesel cars taken into account, many buyers would be better off buying a petrol model, according to data compiled for Driving by CAP, which calculates vehicle running costs.

It identified the bestselling models in Britain and selected the most popular specification of each, and then compared the car with its petrol or diesel equivalent over three years and 36,000 miles of motoring — a higher than average mileage that should play to the strengths of diesel cars. Even so, the monthly cost of running an Audi A5 1.8T FSI SE petrol coupé was £623.35, £15 cheaper than that of the 2.0 TDI diesel equivalent. The Peugeot 208 petrol model mentioned above was £50 cheaper a month than the diesel.

Even where diesel models were cheaper to run, the difference was less than £10 a month for models including the BMW 3-series, Ford Focus, Vauxhall Corsa and Dacia Duster.

“These charges will change the calculations that owners make,” said Philip Nothard, who compiled the CAP figures. “It will reinforce the idea that diesel cars are for long journeys, not for going into cities every day.”


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