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Transport group says new diesel cars should also be banned in cities

Transport experts have called for all diesel cars to be banished from inner cities as part of bans to reduce air pollution – even the brand new models being sold in showrooms today.

Campaigning group Transport & Environment said the latest Euro 6 diesels should be outlawed because ’90 per cent on sale today don’t meet the EU emissions limit on the road’.

With London due to enforce Ultra Low Emissions Zones in the capital and the rest of Britain introducing Clean Air Zones in other cities from 2019, Euro 6 diesels are expected to be excused from additional charges and potential restrictions.

However, any consideration to block the use of the newest models could see diesel car values crash and the market crippled.

Blanket ban on diesel: Transport & Environment, one of the most influential green vehicle campaigners, wants European cities to ban all diesel cars from entering their centres, including those on sale right now

Cities across Europe have already moved to restrict the use of diesel cars in their centres, with Germany allowing for blanket bans to be enforced across the nation from this year and Rome recently proposing to kerb diesel use in the capital by 2024.

They’ve followed in the footsteps of Copenhagen, which had already called for a diesel ban from next year, and Athens, Madrid and Paris who expressed a desire to stop drivers of diesel cars entering their centres from 2025.

Paris already has a head start on other cities – it introduced the Crit-Air emissions system blocking the oldest cars from entering the French capital during peak hours in January 2017, with the scheme being enforced in other regions across the country.

As for Britain, consultations are ongoing for less extreme measures that will see owners of older diesel cars face additional charges to drive into city centres, though pressure is almost certain to mount on the government to mimic the stricter action taken by neighbouring counties.

While the restrictions being discussed by all nations ultimately target older models that produce significantly higher levels of harmful emissions, the latest cars conforming to Euro 6 standards are widely expected to be given a green light.

However, Transport & Environment has called for these cars to be banned too.

According to the green transport group, more than nine of 10 new diesels sold by dealers today produce more harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx) when driven on the road than EU limits allow.

In some cases they exceed the limit by four to five times, while some models are up to 10 times over the legal restriction, ‘notably Renault, Fiat and Opel (Vauxhall) models,’ says T&E.

In fact, it says some Euro 6 vehicles emit more NOx under normal use than Euro 4 and 5 cars, which were built between 2005 and 2014. 

This map shows which cities in Europe have - or are due to have - low emissions zones and diesel bans introduced in the coming years

This map shows which cities in Europe have – or are due to have – low emissions zones and diesel bans introduced in the coming years

Recent measurements of vehicle emissions outputs revealed last year that 86 per cent of all diesel models put on the British market since the 2015 Volkswagen dieselgate scandal failed to meet the official emissions limit when used on the road.

Independent tester Emissions Analytics said 15 per cent of the cars it tested produced at least eight times more NOx than official tests allow.


Matthias Mueller, ceo of Volkswagen AG

Matthias Mueller, ceo of Volkswagen AG

The backlash on diesel only gathered pace following VW’s 2015 dieselgate emissions scandal.

Feeling some responsibility, the German car maker’s boss, ceo Matthias Mueller, said it would step up its efforts to tackle diesel pollution.

Mr Mueller cited the company’s efforts to reduce diesel emissions following the scandal, with 160,000 older diesels taken off the road through trade-in incentives, and software updated on four million cars to reduce emissions.

He said the company would be ‘part of the solution’ in finding a way to address controversy over the diesel issue.

He added that conventional internal combustion engines would play a role in the company’s push to meet tougher European Union limits on carbon dioxide emissions by 2021. 

However, a £30.2 billion investment into autonomous and electric technology and on developing digital transport services would see the brand moving away from petrol and diesel development from 2022.

In a statement released on Wednesday, T&E said countries could soon face no other option but to banish all diesel models – including those meeting Euro 6 standards – in a bid to reduce their problematic air pollution levels.

It said: ‘Today there are around 40 million grossly polluting diesel cars and vans on European roads, a legacy of the dieselgate scandal. 

‘National vehicle approval authorities remain reluctant to force carmakers to fix these vehicles. 

‘If carmakers refuse to clean up dirty diesels, cities that have been in breach of air pollution limits for almost a decade have no other choice but to implement drastic car restriction measures to protect public health.’

Recent studies by the European Environment Agency claim diesel vehicles are the primary cause of toxic nitrogen dioxide pollution across European cities, resulting in 68,000 premature deaths annually.

In response to the VW scandal, EU lawmakers fast-tracked a new test for manufacturers to gain type approval for models it wants to sell. 

Since it was introduced last September, some brands, such as Porsche, have been forced to pull diesel cars from their ranges because they can’t meet the new standards.

Unrelated to the new measurement, Toyota has also committed to stop selling diesel cars in Europe from the end of this year, with Honda also scaling-back diesel outputs. 

But despite these moves, Julia Poliscanova, clean vehicles manager at T&E, said the onus lies with cities to action ‘blanket exemption of mostly dirty Euro 6 diesels’ if they wanted to improve local air quality.

She added: ‘Unless carmakers properly fix these dirty diesels, cities are left with no other option but keep them out of city centres. 

‘To be effective, the inclusion/exclusion criteria of these measures should be based on vehicles’ real-world emissions that are now widely available. 

‘More importantly, diesel bans should be accompanied by high-quality public transport and infrastructure for shared and zero emission vehicles.’

On February 27, the German Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig ruled that cities can impose driving bans on diesel cars to combat air pollution

On February 27, the German Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig ruled that cities can impose driving bans on diesel cars to combat air pollution

London is due to introduce a Low Emissions Zone, charging older vehicles to enter, in 2019

London is due to introduce a Low Emissions Zone, charging older vehicles to enter, in 2019

The Society of Manufacturers and Traders – the body that speaks on behalf of the UK’s motor industry – continues to back Euro 6 diesel cars.

Tamzen Isacsson, SMMT director, told This is Money: ‘Industry has invested billions of pounds to develop and produce the latest Euro 6 diesel vehicles, which are the cleanest ever. 

‘These cars have significantly reduced NOx and all but eliminated particulates. 

‘In addition, the new EU emissions test now in force means new cars to market are being tested on the road for the first time – meaning manufacturers will be meeting the toughest standards in the world. 

‘SMMT supports a consistent approach to improving air quality that incentivises uptake of the latest low emission vehicles, whatever their fuel type. 

‘That includes new Euro 6 diesels, which will not face penalty charges anywhere in the UK under the government’s air quality plans.’

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs is due to issue its latest update on air quality on Thursday.


A European-wide survey of 7,000 electric drivers conducted by smart charging solutions provider NewMotion found that some zero-emissions adopters are trimming their motoring costs by €900 a year. 

Almost one third (28 per cent) of those surveyed drive their electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle 70 per cent or more of the time, while 31 per cent of respondents said they do not own another vehicle, indicating that pure electric cars and plug-in hybrids are becoming a primary vehicle for some households.

Many of these EV drivers claim to be finding genuine cost saving benefits with 30 per cent revealing they save over €900 a year compared to using a conventional petrol or diesel car.

While Britons would argue that the public charging infrastructure is one of the major hurdles stopping them from making the switch, Europeans suggest more needs to be done in the workplace.

The NewMotion survey revealed that only 10 per cent of respondents acquired their EV through their company. The same percentage said they charge their EV at work compared to 65 per cent at home and 27 per cent in public places. 

Central and Eastern Europe face the biggest diesel problem 

T&E said the biggest emissions issue for the continent lies in Central and Eastern European countries that rely heavily on second-hand car exports into their fleets. 

With many western cities considering outright diesel bans, it warned that there’s an imminent danger that millions of the ‘grossly polluting’ vehicles their citizens no longer want will end up on the roads of cities such as Warsaw, Prague and Sofia and ‘continue to bellow toxic fumes in years to come’.

Poliscanova said: ‘There’s a high risk that Central and Eastern European cities will be flooded with cheap, dirty diesels that Western Europeans can no longer drive where they want. 

‘European Commission should consider what measures can be put in place to ensure all second-hand imported cars have had their exhaust treatment systems fixed or upgraded. 

‘All Europeans have an equal right to clean air and a joint European solution is needed.’

Chancelor Philip Hammond announced an increase in first-year VED car tax for new diesel models that will be introduced in April. A recent study found that 87% of motorists don't understand the changes

Chancelor Philip Hammond announced an increase in first-year VED car tax for new diesel models that will be introduced in April. A recent study found that 87% of motorists don’t understand the changes

The impact of diesel action in the UK so far

Even before the idea of a diesel ban has been suggested in the UK, action already taken has seen the fuel type take a hammering in the year.

Diesel registrations fell by 17 per cent in 2017 on the back of additional charges for the fuel type, and sales are 25 per cent down already in the first two months of this year. 

And it will soon get tougher for the under-fire fuel type. 

As of next month, new diesel cars sold in the UK will be subject to higher first-year tax than a petrol car with equivalent carbon dioxide emissions – which is the measure for Vehicle and Excise Duty bands.


Drivers of low-emissions vans will get tax cuts under new government plans

Drivers of low-emissions vans will get tax cuts under new government plans

White van men and and businesses purchasing a new low-emissions commercial vehicle are set to be offered cheaper tax under new rules implemented by the Treasury.

In his spring statement on Tuesday, the chancellor said the Treasury confirmed a consultation into reduced VED rates for the cleanest vans. 

Hammond said: ‘This Government is determined that our generation should leave the natural environment in a better state than we found it, and improve the air we breathe.

‘Following our successful intervention to incentivise clean taxis, we will help the great British white van driver go green with a consultation into reduced VED rates into the cleanest vans.’

Chancellor Philip Hammond confirmed the change in the last Autumn Statement.

In November he said: ‘From April 2018 the first year VED rate for diesel cars that don’t meet the latest standards will go up by one band and the existing diesel supplement in Company Car Tax will increase by 1 per cent.

‘Drivers buying a new car will be able to avoid this charge as soon as manufacturers bring forward the next-generation cleaner diesels that we all want to see.’

However, the new standard to test the ‘next generation cleaner diesel’ – called Real Driving Emissions Step 2 – isn’t being introduced until 2020, meaning that manufacturers aren’t even having their vehicles tested to meet this measure for another two years. 

With new diesel cars ultimately becoming more expensive to own – in some cases £500 costlier to tax for the first year and in the most extreme situations up to £2,150 pricier for the following five years – sales, which were already in decline last year, are expected to fall during 2018. 

With the introduction of VED changes last April, the standard rate of tax – paid from the second year – would be a flat fee of £140 every year for all but electric cars.

Add to that a premium tax of £310 on top of the standard rate for five year for any vehicle that cost more than £40,000 to buy, and many vehicles bought just over a year ago will cost £450 a year in VED alone.

With many diesel having measured CO2 emissions as low as 110g/km, under previous guidelines these models would have only cost £20 to tax each year.  

According to – a comparison site for car selling online – the value of diesel cars fell by 5 per cent last year.

Some manufacturers have been worse affected than others, as the table below shows. 

In contrast, petrol car values rose by almost 10 per cent, as drivers began to switch allegiances to other fuels.   

THE USED CARS MOST AFFECTED BY THE DIESEL CRACKDOWN data shows which second-hand cars have been most impacted by the recent proposed bans on diesel across Europe since the turn of the year.

Comparing manufacturer values from the last quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018 so far, the comparison site provided a list of the brands with depreciating diesel vehicles and appreciating petrols.

Diesel Q4 versus Q1 

Suzuki: down 20%

Volvo: down 17% 

Honda: down 16% 

Fiat: down 14% 

MINI: down 13% 

Vauxhall: down 13% 

BMW: down 13% 

Nissan: down 11% 

Citroen: down 11% 

Dacia: down 9%

Petrol Q4 versus Q1 

Volvo: up 23% 

Dacia: up 17% 

Hyundai: up 16% 

Ford: up 12% 

Nissan: up 10% 

Honda: up 9% 

Suzuki: up 9% 

Peugeot: up 7% 

Mazda: up 6% 

Audi: up 5%


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