What’s in Store for Diesel Drivers in 2017?
News entry dated 10th Jan 2017

Last year, we discussed potential trouble ahead for diesel drivers. It was a highly emotive subject – something proven by the 26 pages of comments we received about the article.

Now, 2017 seems set to be the year that diesel drivers are hit with a perfect storm of issues and difficulties, with chatter already building about the potential for tax hikes and even diesel vehicle bans in cities.

Many diesel drivers have a solid reason to feel aggrieved by the government’s rapidly evolving stance on diesel vehicles and the emissions they produce. Under the last Labour government, people were positively encouraged to switch to diesel and Gordon Brown even gave tax breaks to individuals purchasing them.

Diesel car

Of course, that’s all changed since evidence emerged that diesel vehicles are far more damaging to the environment. Now the present government finds itself in the awkward position of having to disincentivise the use of vehicles that people were once proactively encouraged to buy – in a country with over 10 Million diesel cars on the road.

Pollution

Last year, the High Court ruled that the government must urgently act to address air pollution. As we moved into 2017 this was brought into sharp focus with the news that it only took five days for London to breach its air pollution targets. Almost 10,000 annual deaths in London are being blamed on air pollution, with many experts considering diesels to be the main issue.

Last year, a campaigning group called Doctors Against Diesel called on the mayor to put in place a ban on diesel vehicles in London. While this may sound extreme, such bans are actually planned in Athens, Madrid and Paris within the next decade.

However, there are some major practicalities to consider – not least the fact that a government cannot simply ban vehicles that people have previously been encouraged to buy! This is why there are calls for scrappage schemes and incentives to persuade people to move to “cleaner” cars. However, these ideas would be costly and need to be incredibly broad in scope to placate everyone. As yet, the government hasn’t indicated any such schemes are under serious consideration.

Pollution

Taxation

One thing we may realistically see later this year is tax increases for diesel vehicles. The government has frozen fuel duty for six years in a row, and one has to ponder whether this may come to an end in 2017.

Last year, Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport secretary at the time, indicated that taxes may have to rise to address diesel emissions. A fuel duty increase for diesel seems most likely here, which will be especially galling for long-term diesel drivers who will have seen Gordon Brown do exactly the opposite to incentivise diesel use back in 2001.

Diesel Recalls

In addition to all the uncertainty above, if you own a diesel car you may well find yourself needing to visit your dealership for a recall or a software tweak at some point in 2017.

Obviously, the Volkswagen group scandal springs immediately to mind, and owners of diesel VWs, Audis, Skodas, Seats and Porsches should already have been notified if they need to take their car in for recall work. Meanwhile, a class-action lawsuit involving 10,000 owners is in the works. If the action is successful and sets a legal precedent, this could see over a million owners of such cars being awarded £3000 in compensation – something that would cost the VW group £3.6 Billion.

VW Diesel

Aside from this however, it’s important to note that the diesel emissions scandal that broke in 2015 has now engulfed numerous other car manufacturers too.

While no other manufacturer has been implicated in the same way, “irregularities” have been found in diesel vehicles from Renault, Fiat and Jaguar, amongst many others, with plenty of companies including Mercedes-Benz and Opel set to conduct voluntary recalls on their vehicles too. It’s an almighty muddle – and that’s without beginning to consider that such recall work could have an impact on performance and fuel economy.

Is buying diesel now a bad idea?

Choosing a new diesel vehicle is certainly a bolder move than it once was. While it seems incredibly unlikely that the government could introduce any measures that would suddenly drastically disadvantage diesel drivers, the negative press alone could serve to make diesel cars less desirable and hit their resale values. Furthermore, a duty increase on diesel could eat into potential fuel economy savings.

If you travel long distances and select a vehicle with low enough emissions to qualify for low road tax (excise duty), a diesel car could still save you money in the short / medium term – but it’s fair to say it’s now a decision that warrants far more consideration than it once did. On the other hand, your options could be a potentially more polluting petrol car or an electric vehicle – and many consider these to still be in their relative infancy – so not an easy decision to make!

What do you think’s in store for diesel drivers in 2017? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

IMAGE CREDITS: Wikimedia Commons, Flickr

Valerie Bearne January 13, 2017

As I can get at least 200 miles more per tankful on diesel than on petrol, is there not an advantage to the planet for a lower consumption of a precious fossil fuel? As there is less refinement needed to produce diesel than petrol, is there not an advantage to the environment for that?

I too was hoping for atomic or hydrogen or long range electric cars, and annoyed that oil companies could so easily buy up green technology patents in order to bury them.

Meanwhile I run a diesel car, as it is the best current option available.

Roy Forbes January 13, 2017

Like many others, I am sure, we were persuaded ten years ago by the government of the day (Yes Mr Blair and Mr Brown - I mean you!!) to change our vehicles from petrol to diesel. That was despite the fact that we all used to see diesel vehicles emitting thick black smoke.

Since then we have been persuaded to pay the higher purchase prices and put up with lesser performance in order to do our bit. All in the belief that diesels are now cleaner and more efficient. We have repeatedly found that diesels are not that much more economical than petrol, depending how they are driven of course.

I try to change my vehicle about every two years and each time for the past ten years have been persuaded by the various 'Government backed' incentives to stay with diesel. My latest car has the advantage of 'ADBLUE' which is supposed to make even cleaner emissions and with the particular make I have this is topped up by the dealer on the annual service or every 10,000 miles. I know other vehicles are more frequent with their top ups. I was assured by all the literature and government figures that I was embarking in a new era of cleaner running diesels like so many millions of others no doubt.

How many of us realise that over the decades the 'oil masters' have been at the forefront of preventing other forms of motive power from being developed since the 1930s. Internationally, the various governments and of course the advertising media have backed them all the way and that has been proven many times but always pushed to the back wall. Like the tobacco producers, nothing was done to upset the 'Barons'. Who remembers the development of gas turbine cars and by a British company? The company did everything in the research and development by itself without any government backing until it could no longer afford to go on any further. The rights were eventually bought by an American company who dropped it as uneconomical for further development.

Who remembers the atomic engine developed in a back shed in Great Britain? This could run for days at little or no cost. The inventor was ridiculed and eventually had to flee the country but did use his invention for other purposes until he rather mysteriously disappeared after being bought out by an Oil company. Then there was the hydro engine, a little heard of invention originally invented during the second world war. Gosh I could go on.

But back to the point, if anyone is reading this: we motorists and vehicle owners are always, it seems, subjected to the most whimsical thoughts and stirrings of our government, no matter which party is in power, but at the end of the day who is providing the information. I am positive that like the tobacco companies who used to try and convince us that smoking was good for you, the oil companies have been doing the same with their products. The coincidences of the 'scares' about various oil uses and the cost price increase are just because, in my humble opinion, because the oil companies and producers are running scared that someone will find a clean alternative.

Perhaps like tobacco products - oil products may eventually only be sold with no advertising and behind closed shutters, whilst the government of the day increase the tax on oil to such high percentages that oil using will be a 'Black Market' item. Haven't I seen this in a SciFi movie - or two?

Harry Godwin January 13, 2017

Before I/we bought a replacement for a long-term (120k miles) Subaru Outback, which was written off after a tap up the back,, I asked some dealers if there were any whispers in the industry. None of them knew anything.
A replacement petrol Outback was going to cost from £285 VED and might manage 30mpg.
We bought a diesel Skoda Superb estate ,which costs £180 VED and delivers 50mpg.
I know the argument is about NOx and diesels, but is the pollution from the Skoda less than the Subaru would have produced?
I am very happy with my reduced running costs, which should not be affected by the fix when it is done.

Grahame Goodyer January 13, 2017

Hi,

I was never a diesel lover until it came to buying a new car in 2012. With the low emission tax breaks, I broke tradition of buying petrol and I bought a new Golf Bluemotion. Yes, one of now discredited cars.

3 years later, before the diesel scandal broke, based again on low running costs and emissions, I bought a new Audi A6 Diesel.

So, am I a little p***** off. You bet.

My Golf has yet to have its fix. My model isn't expected to have the software, and in my case, hardware upgrade until later this year. If I wish to sell it, what loss will I incur until the fix is carried out?

My A6 is EU6 rated. Does this mean that in a few years time this too will banned from city centres? My aim with the Audi was to keep it long term. But was use is car you can't drive in major town and cities?

I have been seriously mislead by VW Audi and the UK Government.

So if my next car is an electric car, will this then become a liability as power stations and the national grid can't cope with the number of recharging stations? Maybe I should buy myself and my wife a tandem bike. Oh no. Can't do that. When did you last see a bike rack in town that takes tandem bikes?

OK, so back to walking then!! Now wheres my trainers???

ivan gill January 12, 2017

I have sympathy with people buying diesel on environmental grounds.. Removing diesels or more fairly vehicles emitting high levels of NO2 is urgent, people's lives are being cut short.

If this results in a fall in 2nd hand prices of diesels this gives measurable damage to claimy against companies cheating emissions tests. For the Wortley realtime offenders like VW with emissions 20x + above official figures a buyback scheme would be completely in order.

People are dying, I don't understand the lack of outrage or the greater concern that buyers of these diesels might be inconvenienced.

Governemnt should be funding and fighting and acting on everyonesale behalf, these delays ad ref inexcusable.

Roger Hempel January 12, 2017

Before they start banning diesel cars in our cities what about cleaning up the buses ,taxis, & vans/trucks. There are far more of these on the road in our cities then there are cars. Or doing more research into cleaner engines for both petrol & diesel.What about a better way to change cars over to LPG without losing so much space in the boot?!

David Shannon January 12, 2017

Once upon a time, diesels were mis-sold to the general public by government and manufacturers. Increasing the cost of diesel fuel is punishing the innocent consumer. Where are the lawyers fighting for compensation?

We want an incentive to switch. Reducing the value of a trade-in is not going to encourage removal of diesels, Trade-in values based on a comparable non-diesel vehicle would encourage replacement.

All new diesel vehicles should be taxed to discourage new diesels on the road, with punitive first year levies and progressively higher levels to get older more pollutant vehicles off the road.

The government need to take the lead, not punish innocent consumers but force the manufacturers to withdraw new diesels and stump up the funds to compensate those to whom the vehicles were missold.

Increasing fuel duty will lose the next election.

Ralph Bragg January 12, 2017

I totally agree with the comments, so there is an issue with pollution in city centres, and what do we have, a large concentration of in city centre, buses and taxis,
But as usual, the cash cow motorist will be the easy target. Most diesels now do have an adblu system and the exhaust is virtually clean, so surely this must be an improvement. Battery vehicles are not the answer, expensive, poor range, battery life and cost to replace, why is hydrogen not being pursued as a fuel source, now that is zero emissions.

Anthony Jones January 12, 2017

As VW owner how do I join this class-action lawsuit??

Philip Hicks January 12, 2017

The motorist always gets ripped off by our Government, why not look at the pollution caused by wood burners/coal fires, in our town and villages going outside is choking and it can be smelt indoors as well, So dont pick on the motorist, look at the other causes as well....

Peter Gascoine January 12, 2017

Increasing taxation to diesel cars, be it on fuel or vehicle road tax will not solve the problem of particulate and NO2/Nox pollution, it will only boost HMG's coffers and create an inflationary effect by increasing the cost of all road related transportation. This issue will only be solved by long term efforts to encourage more use of public transport and promote alternative fuels, I.e. electric vehicles.

anthony read January 12, 2017

I am seventy years old. As a child in a Ford popular driven by my Father following a lorry up a hill I was always told that diesels were a filthy and dirty fuel. The fuel has not changed but marketing has.
We are told by "Government" not to smoke, not to drink to excess, get excercise etc so as dilligent citizens we comply., so when urged by "government" to buy a diesel car (followed by "facts" to prove the benefits) we then buy Diesel. I feel it is up to the government to re imburse ALL diesel drivers who bought on recommendation and subsidise the purchase of a new "clean" vehicle.
Consecutive governments have talked bull**it and feel they have no responsibility for their lies. Car owners have been used as cash cows for too long. It is time the authorities were made responsible for their mis- information.

PS when I was a boy we had electric delivery vans and electric buses. Nothing is new except control.

Mark Phillips January 12, 2017

I have a 17 year old Skoda Octavia diesel and my wife a nine year old estate version. We'll run them until the wheels fall off then consider our options. For me, the responsibility for pollution lies with the manufacturers and governments, and they shouldn't retrospectively impose financial penalties on those that run older vehicles. In time, older cars will disappear through wear and scrappage, so their polluting days are numbered anyway. If the authorities really want to reduce pollution, put cash into hydrogen engined cars - no pollution at all!

Geoffrey Timms January 12, 2017

I have an Audi A6 which is a 2 litre petrol which I was going to update with a new one but unless I choose the high performance, high petrol consumption S6 or RS6 I can only buy a diesel!!!???

Carol Nash January 12, 2017

There is just one thing I don't understand and that is my diesel car has lower emissions than a lot of petrol cars so why, just because it's a diesel, should we be put at a disadvantage.

Robert Astill January 12, 2017

It is long overdue that diesel drivers should be paying more for road tax. They should be paying the same, if not more than petrol drivers, after all, it supposed to be a "road tax".

Mark Tennent January 12, 2017

I have been reading and contributed to this discussion, taking a neutral position and just supplying the real facts about diesel and petrol engines.

One thing is clear and easily demonstrated: diesel car drivers will believe anything that supports their view and pooh-pooh anything that tells them they are wrong. Re-read some of their comments and replace 'my diesel vehicle' with 'my gun'.

They then sound the same as the NRA and gun lobby in the USA, complete with all the deaths that guns cause amongst civilians there.

derek turner January 12, 2017

All this lot is totally rubbish brought on by the oil companies because no body is buying as much petrol as they were
As for diesel engine vehicle making a lot of people ILL true but in most cases only if they have lung problems so not every body is effected
I don't here the anti-diesel brigade telling us petrol is killing us all
Now how about petrol engines, well the truth is a petrol engine running in a confined space will KILL YOU NO IF ARE'S BUTS THEY WILL KILL YOU IF any of you boffins out there doubt my word just try your luck and arrange for your buddy to report on your results
A diesel engine running in a confined space will make your eyes run and may make you feel sick but not kill you.
So you M P's out there stop listening to rubbish from oil Companies or should i say bribes
start considering the health of your people and put your powers and money into full electric cars or the fuel cell and by the way don't think Hybrids are all good because they are not because most of them have petrol engine as well as batteries
Derek Turner retired motor engineer

Brian Marshall January 12, 2017

I have never liked diesel vehicles, would never buy diesel car. I also have 4KW Solar Panel array bought 6 years ago, and also run a Mondeo Estate with LPG gas conversion self financed . LPG vehicle give out NO emissions so Why are these vehicles not encouraged more by may be offering a LOWER road tax charge, I pay same as the petrol version.

    M O'Regan January 13, 2017

    Actually, there are emissions. Complete combustion will produce CO2 and water. Incomplete combustion can lead to other emissions, such as other hydrocarbons and soot.

    One of my previous cars ran on LPG - loved it. Might get another.

    Jeremy Morris January 12, 2017

    LPG vehicles do give out emissions Brian. A simple internet search confirms this.

Carl Harding January 12, 2017

What about biodiesels and diesels that run on veggie oil? They are supposed to be a lot cleaner.

    Derek Shanks January 12, 2017

    I totally agree with you, I also have an emission free LPG vehicle but like you get no road tax concessions on it. the government should encourage the use of LPG by giving a tax concession to anyone converting their vehicle.
    Typical of the government backtracking on Diesel cars, encourage the use of them one minute then condemning them the next.