January 12 2018
Sales of diesel vehicles plummeted in 2017
Consumer confusion surrounding diesel cars saw sales of the vehicles plummet in 2017. Registrations of new diesel vehicles fell by 17.1% last year, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). And it has been predicted - by researchers at Aston University - that sales of diesel vehicles will drop by a further 10% in 2018, meaning that diesel vehicles will count for less than a third of the market by 2020.
The fall in the uptake of diesel vehicles has largely been driven by anti-diesel rhetoric in the media, and the corresponding confusion surrounding the dangers of diesel. It was only a few years ago that we were all being persuaded to purchase a diesel vehicle due to their positive environmental credentials - Gordon Brown even introduced road-tax breaks for the diesel savvy shopper. So where has it all gone wrong? And why are some diesels considered safer than others?
While it’s technically correct that diesel vehicles are more fuel efficient than their petrol counterparts and emit less carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere - one of the main gases associated with climate change - diesel vehicles have been found to emit much higher levels of nitrogen oxide (NOX) than their petrol parallels - a significant contributor to pollution in cities. With urban pollution sitting high on the UK government’s agenda over the past year or so - thanks partly to the conversation surrounding the Clean Air Strategy, and the emissions targets set out by the EU - the toll that diesel is taking on a local level has been reevaluated.
Diesel cars equally fell out of favour on a global scale in 2015 when the dangers of emissions were brought to the fore, as the Volkswagen emissions scandal hit the headlines. The effect of diesel’s fall from grace is not only affecting the new car market; sales of second hand diesels are also on the decline - likely due to the fact that consumers consider them ‘dirtier’ than their more modern counterparts, and therefore more eligible for charges and restrictions when navigating and entering busy cities.
So, why are some diesel vehicles on the roads today, still exempt from paying road tax? Whilst the law surrounding vehicle taxation can be pretty tricky to navigate, the answer to this question is relatively simple. Any owner of a new vehicle (registered on or after 1 April 2017) will have to pay a flat rate Vehicle Excise Duty of £140 - unless your vehicle is zero emissions. An overhaul of the Vehicle Excise Duty and subsequent tax bands, was introduced in the UK in April 2017, which placed zero-emissions cars - basically fully electric cars - as the only low-tax-band vehicle, therefore the only type of vehicle exempt from tax. If your vehicle was registered before the 1 April 2017, you still abide by the old tax bands, which ordered vehicles by their CO2 emissions as opposed to their NOX emissions. This is because the political agenda of the time was to combat climate change, as opposed to urban pollution.
The current political agenda is pushing zero-emissions cars, with a direct focus on the expansion of the nationwide charging network for plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles, and the phasing out of the internal combustion engine by 2040. However, industry insiders have shown their disdain towards what they call the ‘government’s anti-diesel rhetoric’, and have called for more education from ministers surrounding the fact that new diesels - despite their falling numbers - are much cleaner than the older (but not that much older) diesel vehicles which are currently benefiting from zero road tax, and are therefore more appealing to consumers.
All figures provided are those of the manufacturer and are not necessarily those of Go Green Leasing.
Posted on 12th January 2018 at 12:18PM