In some major European cities, diesel cars have become the bane of existing policies. A recent statement from the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, sums up this general state of mind. A few months ago she declared that she wanted to see diesel vehicles disappear by 2020.
The same debate is ongoing in the UK where The Environmental Audit Committee suggested a scrapping project for diesel cars to accelerate fleet renewal. Moreover, they recommended some tax changes that had until now favored diesel gasoline because of its lower CO2 impact.
The use of diesel, for which the consumption has long been promoted, is now being challenged due to the decrease in air quality in cities.
Diesel: some preconceived ideas
Making up 60% of all French vehicles, diesel vehicles are very popular in France. With the debate on diesel that has arisen in recent years, the French newspapers “new obs” analyzed six preconceived ideas about diesel in France thought,
• “A diesel vehicle causes more pollution than petrol” – TRUE
• “A diesel with a filter does not pollute more than a petrol car” – Somewhat TRUE
• “Diesel is responsible for 40,000 deaths per year” – FALSE
• “A diesel vehicle costs less than petrol” – Somewhat TRUE
• “A diesel vehicle performs better” – TRUE
• “Attacking diesel is attacking the Made in France” – TRUE
How do car manufacturers react?
Although diesel is not the most important thing for them, car manufacturers continue to defend it. Diesel cars still account for 70% of sales in France and 55 % in Europe, although these numbers tend to decrease over the years. CCFA, the French Automobile Manufacturers Committee predicted that this rate will fall to 50 % in 2020.
Renault and PSA in turn defend themselves from these attacks on diesel vehicles. PSA has indeed highlighted all the R&D efforts made in recent years to make their engines cleaner. According to the group, these developments have reduced particle emissions by 99%, NOX (nitrogen oxide or greenhouse gas) emissions by 98%.
Diesel and fine particles – make the distinction
For the CCFA, the best solution to improve air quality is by first taking action on old cars. They say that they have always supported the accelerated renewal of old vehicles as the performance of new vehicle meets the latest European diesel standards, which are among the strictest in the world.
They said the Mayor of Paris, in her statements, made no distinction between old diesel cars and modern diesel vehicles equipped with the latest pollution control technologies to meet European standards ( Euro 5/6 standards). Therefore they advocate focusing primarily on diesel vehicles not equipped with closed particle filters which represent 2/3 of all vehicles.