Understanding the choices and options regarding how we fuel our vehicles now and in the years to come has always been relatively straightforward; unleaded, diesel or AFVs (Alternatively Fuelled Vehicles).

Buyers take advice and guidance from authoritative sources, and when encouraged by incentives from the Government, those choices become easier. Just as we’re now encouraged to buy hybrid or all-electric, there was a time (in recent memory) that the same applied to diesel – we were actively encouraged to take the diesel option.

Research tells us that diesel perhaps may not be the saviour of the internal combustion engine, even with such giants as Bosch actively working toward better solutions, society is in crisis, with worldwide legislators introducing a raft of changes without any definite plan.

Banned from cities

One such example of ‘no clear plan’ is the recent placing of signs within the city of Hamburg, Germany, that are banning the use of diesel on two major roads within the city. Despite the signs being placed in readiness for a ban, no clear outline or structure has been issued as to what diesels will be targeted – everything but the current Euro 6 compliant vehicles? Or Pre-Euro 5?

Critics are saying that it is nothing more than a gimmick; the two roads in question just happen to have air monitoring stations on them, and there is the issue that any detour would likely lead to extra miles being added to a journey, therefore, more pollution.

Here in the UK, we’ve already seen a surfeit of owners that have been penalised for following the Government’s advice, which now leaves them facing punitive taxes, both directly and indirectly, and yet the Business Secretary, Greg Clark has insisted “there is still a place for diesel”.

Road to Zero

With the confusion in Germany, and the ever-changing opinions regarding the use of diesel here in the UK, is it any wonder that new car sales have slumped by 8% over the last year? Or that diesel sales in particular are down 32%? Some cynics may say that Clark’s statement is a rather ineffectual push to boost sales of new cars, but until a clear strategy is in place, the market will remain deflated.

Despite the lack of clarity, or set policy, other organisations are looking to implement measures targeting diesel vehicles also; Richard Cairns, Headmaster at the independent Brighton College, has recently spoken of targeting environmental issues. He plans on creating a working group, made up from the school’s sixth-formers to investigate the effects of diesel, and he’s not ruled out the banning of teachers and parents using diesel cars from entering the site.

Has the government rushed ahead?

Trying to make sense of the where the legislation is at is a minefield. We know that certain documents have been leaked regarding the Road to Zero policy, we also know that some statements made are baseless and mean very little – the banning of hybrids that can’t manage 50+ miles on electric power only in 22 years means nothing.

But what with diesels? It seems that the world is against them, and yet our Business Secretary has made a bold statement saying they’re not yet dead, and he sees a future for them. To quantify the statement, he has said that it could be a further option, perhaps for long-distance haulage, but surely that’s not an acceptable answer?

How will this affect you?

Logic tells us that buying a diesel right now isn’t the sensible choice, and given the slump in sales numbers, it would seem that buyers agree. However, it’s looking more likely that these proposed regulations are ‘fluid’ and very likely to be different in a year, never mind in ten or even twenty years.

Germany is the first country in the world to set an outright ban like this, and other European cities are set to follow, but again, it seems possible that the ban is potentially more of a political move, rather than one to help with air quality, this is purely about showing their commitment and ‘hardline’ stance – a little style over substance if you will.

If you own a diesel, there is no doubting that you’re going to see an increase in the cost of ownership, but as always, there are things that you can do to minimise that expense. If you’ve already registered with PetrolPrices, download the app to give you a clear understanding of where to find the cheapest fuel in your locale while you’re on the go.

Keep an eye on supermarket price wars or discount vouchers, they can save you approximately £5 per fill, this could equate to around £260 per annum as an average. Of course, make sure your car is mechanically up to the job – no sticking brakes, slipping clutch, dirty air filter or flat tyres.

Aside from that, we’re all just waiting to see which way the Government is leaning, once things have been clarified, we’ll be sure to tell you.

Do you feel that the government are deliberately muddying the waters? We can’t see a clearly defined plan or strategy, do you? Should we just forget about fossil-fuel and embrace the future of electricity and PHEVs? Let us know in the comments below?

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