A new study by Kwik Fit has shown that if we want to reduce air pollution by two thirds almost overnight, the aim should be to remove all diesel vehicles from the road that are over ten years in age.  Their study shows that there are 3.5 million diesel cars on the road registered before 2007, and if they were replaced with the new Euro6 diesel engine, NOx emissions would fall by nearly 70%.

Age-related problems

Kwik Fit looked at the number of older vehicles on the road and the study proves that the replacement of older diesels would cut emissions of nitrous oxide by 68%.  It would also save motorists some £1 billion a year.  The study followed the government’s crackdown on diesel cars, with an increase in the first-year tax for any new diesel cars bought from April onwards.

This move was criticised by experts because newer diesel cars are much less polluting than older models already on the road.  The move could also discourage drivers of older vehicles from replacing them with newer models.

Government crackdown

The government crackdown on diesel shows no sign of slowing and has drawn criticism from many different sources.  The budget increase, for example, moving cars up a tax band based on emissions – without any real-world emission tests having been carried out on them.  Kwik Fit’s study shows that the move could affect more than health and finances.

The study shows that if the current Euro6 standard diesel engine were to replace older vehicles, harmful emissions would be cut significantly.  It would also save motorists a lot of money in fuel.  Older cars currently travel around 30 billion miles a year, emitting some 12.1 million kilograms of NOx and using 66 million gallons of fuel.

Fuel savings

If drivers were to switch to newer models, not only would the emissions be cut by two thirds, reducing the risk of pollution-related conditions and deaths, but it would also be kind on the pocket.  Newer diesel cars are more fuel efficient and consume 488.8 million gallons to cover the same mileage, saving drivers some £947 million a year.

It would even reduce factors such as the volume of tankers on the road as drivers will need to fill up less often.  It would further reduce costs and pollution.  The move could see some 20,000 fewer loads of diesel requiring delivery around the UK.

Electric growth

The much-criticised move to penalise new diesel cars may be putting drivers off from replacing their older diesel models, but it has a potential upside – the continued increase in sales of electric vehicles.  In fact, according to data from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit shows that sales of electric cars will overtake diesel cars in as little as two years’ time.

Diesel car sales dropped by a third in October compared to the previous year, the 7th decline in a row.  It was also the most significant drop in diesel sales for nine years.  At the same time, the sales of electric and hybrid cars have risen by 37%.

The study went on to say that they believe the tipping point for diesel versus electric sales will be mid-2019 when the electric sales will move above diesel for the first time.

Scrappage schemes

Many car manufacturers have introduced scrappage schemes to help persuade older diesel owners to swap to a newer vehicle and make the cost less prohibitive.  These programmes include both diesel and petrol schemes and will see significant discounts up to £8000 on more modern vehicles.  But so far, this seems to have had little impact on new diesel car sales.

The cost of replacing all diesel cars over the age of ten is said to cost over £97 billion, based on the average new car price of £28,000.  So, the government would need to provide drivers with significant help towards this cost if they are serious about replacing these vehicles.

What do you think about the Kwik Fit study and whether it’s a viable way to tackle road pollution? Do you think the Government would support a scrappage scheme focused on old diesel cars of this scale? Are 10 year old diesel cars the real culprits behind most pollution? Let us know in the comments below.

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