Sunday 18 March 2018

142-reg could offer a chance to think about petrol instead of diesel

Talking Point

Petrol or diesel?
Petrol or diesel?
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

The figures speak for themselves. We’re diesel mad. Simple as that.

We love the higher miles per gallon, smaller road-tax bills and less VRT because of lower emissions.

But are we paying too much for our diesels? And are we buying them even when we don’t really need them?

Let the figures speak for themselves.

Up to the end of May we bought or registered 47,084 diesel cars.

Over the same period we bought or registered 16,106 petrols.

Both represent increases in overall numbers on the corresponding period for 2013. Diesels are up 21.97pc and petrols 12.87pc, according to SIMI statistics.

Petrols account for one in four, yes just 25pc of the market, with diesels taking a serious 73pc.

It is a trend that has grown and expanded ever since the previous government brought in an emissions-based car taxation system in 2008.

But I feel that too many people are spending an extra €2,000/€3,000 on buying |diesel models in what is a false economy.

It could take them seven or more years before they recoup that additional outlay in savings on fuel alone.

Indeed, it could be 10 years or 12 years – if ever – because lots of people only drive 5,000km |to 10,000km a year.

And I think they should realise they are wasting money putting a diesel to work under such extremely limited circumstances.

The automakers are, naturally, delighted because they make a nice tidy profit on their diesel car sales.

I’ve spoken with people over the years about the extra cost of producing a diesel engine. It is a long, long way short of costing €2,000 more than a petrol.

Of course they require a different, stronger build than petrols because of the extra stresses exerted in diesel combustion. And the automakers have spent a lot of money on developing technologies that are extraordinary in their precision and scope.

Still . . .

On the other side of the fence, petrols are finally catching up in terms of technology and sophistication and power. They are not quite there yet, especially on emissions, but I have driven several 1.2-litre versions from different marques this year |and I’d have no problem saying they are a better prospect for thousands of low-mileage motorists.

I think there is a bit of a turnaround. I think the message is slowly seeping in. There will always be huge demand for diesels, especially from the fleet and user-chooser drivers. But tipping around town is a job many can leave to the small, less costly petrol.

It will be interesting to see if there is much of a shift when the new 142-registration buying spree starts next month.


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