Thursday 21 November 2019

Diesel cars 'finished, will soon disappear', EC warns motorists

European Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska
European Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Diesel cars are "finished" and will "completely disappear" in the near term because of consumer demands for cleaner vehicles, the European Commissioner in charge of industrial policy has warned.

Families buying a diesel vehicle could concerned their motor's re-sale value will fall. But motoring groups insist the move away from fossil fuels towards electric cars will be gradual and that, for some, diesel is still the best choice.

European Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska said the EU had a "breakthrough moment" after Volkswagen admitted in 2015 that it fitted diesel engines with software to cheat US air quality checks, which resulted in massive fines.

This deeply affected "the emotions in society toward emissions and cleaner cars", she said.

"People have realised that we will never have completely clean diesel cars.

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

Figures from the Central Statistics Office show Irish motorists are moving away from diesel cars towards petrol and electric. Almost 65pc of all new cars bought last year were diesel, compared with 73pc in 2014, figures show.

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) said diesel was appropriate for motorists who drove long distances, and devaluing the existing fleet would leave many unable to switch to cleaner vehicles.

"If you say diesels aren't worth buying, you end up devaluing every second-hand diesel," SIMI director general Alan Nolan said.

"For a consumer looking at changing their car, the key issue is not the price of the new car but the cost of change.

"There's the trade-in value of your existing car and the price of the new car.

"Most of those in a position to change and buy a zero- emitting car will not do so if the (diesel) stock is devalued.

"What's been happening is people who bought a diesel to do 7,000 or 8,000km a year, when it wasn't the right choice for them, are moving back to petrol, hybrid or electric cars."

The Government has said that by 2030 all new cars sold here must be capable of being zero-emitting, meaning traditional petrol and diesel will go.

Other countries are proposing similar measures, while cities including Paris, Madrid, Oslo and Mexico City plan to ban diesel cars from 2025. Manufacturers including Toyota will also stop producing diesel passenger cars from next year.

The AA's Conor Faughnan said everyone in the industry acknowledged technology was moving away from fossil fuels, but that air quality in cities was better than at any point since the industrial revolution.

While some motorists might have concerns about the value of their diesel car if they went to sell in a number of years, the transition towards cleaner vehicles would take time and needs to be properly managed.

"I wouldn't have any reservations about buying a diesel now, but whether the Government does something silly is another question," he said.

"It wouldn't be unsurprising if some motorists didn't have those concerns. If it's properly managed, it will happen scarcely without a ripple and we'll just notice more cars on the road are electric."

Irish Independent

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