Saturday 21 September 2019

Fresh diesel row rages: You, yes you, want to bury diesel as quickly as possible, according to EU chief

• Diesel only option for thousands, experts say • Consumer sentiment will bury it soon: EU chief

An electric car
An electric car
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

You, yes you, want to bury diesel as quickly as possible, it seems.

You have taken a turn against it ever since the Volkswagen scandal and, like most regulators, you now want to get rid of it in a few short years.

'Speaking' on your behalf is a senior EU Commissioner.

Taking a directly opposite view, and claiming to speak for many diesel users, are two senior motor industry figures.

They ask, what are many people going to drive if it's not diesel? They claim there isn't an alternative now and won't be for many, many years.

Their inference is that diesel car owners - and they are still in the majority here - need and prefer a diesel and are most unlikely to dispense with it in the absence of a viable alternative.

But according to European Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska, you, yes you, have changed a lot since the Volkswagen scandal and you as much as regulators want diesel finished.

Is she speaking for you? Who is speaking for you?

She said the scandal affected "the emotions in society toward emissions and cleaner cars".

"Diesel cars are finished," she added. "I think in several years they will completely disappear. This is the technology of the past."

Not at all, said Prof Ralf Speth, chief executive of Jaguar Land Rover, who visited Dublin last week.

Electric powertrains are very much part of the future, he admitted, but he was adamant that the internal combustion engine will have a major role to play for many years to come.

"Diesel is a very, very good engine," he emphasised.

Significantly, he appealed for a move away from the "emotional discussion" about diesel to a "scientific one" that is based on facts and figures.

Which is exactly what is not happening in many cases, I think.

But we did get a down-to-earth flavour of what could be achieved in that regard by Mercedes Ireland's Ciaran Allen this week.

He simply cited the case of someone, perhaps like you, commuting to Dublin from one of the neighbouring counties who runs up 1,000km a week.

It's a 200km a day round-trip, and many are covering that sort of mileage.

Mr Allen asked, where or what is the alternative?

"The tipping point will be when EVs can do what the diesel cars can do now," he said.

"The reality is, if you do 1,000km a week you need diesel. On the mass scale, when an EV can do that, it will be the tipping point. Diesel is alive and kicking, and will be for a long, long time to come. Our customers need diesel."

Meanwhile, in response to queries on the new WLTP emissions-testing system, he said there were reports - merely early indications at this stage, it should be stressed - that SUVs and petrols were faring poorly while diesel was doing well.

Mr Allen said that, generally speaking, most brands will have winners and losers.

As things stand, that would mean some new models being hit by higher road tax and VRT.

But there are hopes the Revenue Commissioners will re-align tax bands in view of the new measurements.

Do you want to bury diesel? Tell me

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