rusting car next to fuel pump
Petrol and diesel: future dinosaurs
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SO, that’s it then. Goodbye petrol car, goodbye diesel.

The government has put them on the chopping block for 2040 – that’s some 23 years away, or about three car generations – a victim of their own success and noxious by-products.

When it comes to health, that can’t be a bad thing: diesel NOx in particular has been fingered as a key contributor to 40,000 premature deaths. So congrats to the government on that score.

  • End of road for petrol and diesel cars and vans, read this story here

But let’s not get carried away. The government was backed into a corner by the High Court to outline proposals that would meet EU clean air regulations, something which the government had wished to duck prior to the election.

But ClientEarth, green activist lawyers, kept the government’s feet to the fire and made them come up with a plan by the end of this month.

And they are really not convinced. “On our initial examination, this is little more than a shabby rewrite of the previous draft plans and is underwhelming and lacking in urgency,” explained ClientEarth CEO James Thornton.

“This plan is, yet again, a plan for more plans. The government is passing the buck to local authorities to come up with their own schemes as an alternative to clean air zones which charge the most polluting vehicles to enter our towns and cities. Yet Defra’s own evidence shows that charging clean air zones would be the swiftest way to tackle illegal levels of pollution.”

Pretty damning stuff.

And really, the announcement, although perhaps shocking in the way it was relayed, was nothing new. The government clean air plans had already stated – back in 2011 – that it wanted conventional combustion engines to finish by 2040, with 2050 the target for all car and vans to be zero emission.

So it’s announcing an announcement it has made previously. Nothing like making something old look new and shiny…

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But what about all those company car drivers that were persuaded to opt for diesel as it was low in CO2 emissions? Since 2012 HMRC’s company car tax policy has seen the encouragement of diesels because of their low emissions of CO2, while the 3% supplement was to recognise local pollutants.

  • 10 company cars driving down CO2 emissions, click to read this story

Those local pollutants have come home to roost – it’s the NOx, the nitrous oxides particularly in urban areas, that cause such ill health: asthma and heart disease are just two.

So what do you do if you are a small business running diesel company cars?

It appears that taxation maybe changing. One line in the Air Quality Plan suggests that “Measures to improve air quality will therefore be funded through changes to the tax treatment for new diesel vehicles…” Expect more later on, probably in the Autumn statement.

In the meantime, it will be worth considering your alternatives when you next come to choose a company car or to lease a new car: could you live with a low emission car, such as a hybrid or plug-in hybrid. Even an electric car?

Here’s a good place to start: our Best Green SME Company Car 2017.

 

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1 COMMENT

  1. “The proposal to tax new diesel vehicles more heavily comes with pros and cons. It suggests existing diesel drivers will not be adversely affected, but this could severely harm both private owners and businesses that rely on the economy of diesel for high mileage driving, especially if new model diesels prove to be cleaner when real-world testing is introduced.
    RAC Official Statement on government’s clean air plan

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