A BACKLASH against diesel cars could add hundreds of pounds to the price of new vehicles, industry figures warned, as they criticised councils that have begun levying additional charges on diesels.
Last week representatives from the big manufacturers, including Volkswagen, BMW, Ford and Jaguar Land Rover, launched a campaign to promote the benefits of the fuel. It followed a story earlier this year in The Sunday Times revealing that in an attempt to improve air quality, Islington council, in north London, would be levying a £96 surcharge on all residents who needed a parking permit for a diesel car. Other local authorities are understood to be planning their own charges.
Car makers say this is unfair as it penalises drivers with diesel engines that meet the latest standard — known as Euro 6 — which are considerably cleaner than earlier models. Diesels typically emit more harmful nitrogen oxides and particulates but less CO2 than petrol cars. Manufacturers fear that if consumers switch to buying petrol cars to avoid diesel surcharges, it will be more difficult to meet CO2 emission targets set by the EU. These call for an average reduction of more than 30g/km of CO2 per vehicle sold by 2021 — almost 25% lower than current levels.
As a result, car makers may be forced to spend increasing sums developing advanced petrol, hybrid and electric vehicles. A report by Evercore ISI, a banking advisory firm, has estimated that the targets will add more than £700 to the price of a new car by 2021.
Critics of the fuel point out that diesel emissions are tested in a laboratory and real-world tests have shown that they emit far more pollution. Car companies say this is not true of Euro 6 engines.