What’s the future for diesel cars in Ireland?

Geraldine Herbert assesses the prospects for diesel cars in Ireland The use of diesel as a fuel has come under increasing scrutiny since the Volkswagen emissions scandal in 2015. In addition, European testing procedures have been found to be inadequate and there are growing concerns over the impact of diesel’s NOX emissions on people’s health in urban areas, where they have been blamed for chronic breathing problems and related illnesses. These emissions are blamed for causing an estimated 1,200 premature deaths in Ireland every year and some 400,000 across Europe. Geraldine Herbert, Motoring Journalist As car dealers prepare for the busy 172 period, many prospective buyers must be wondering about the viability of diesel, mindful that any change to the cost of diesel, the current motor tax system or the introduction of a scrappage scheme could have a profound effect on the future value of diesel cars in Ireland. The prospects of the diesel engine are indeed open to question but any clarity on the situation seems unlikely when even among car manufacturers responses differ. The Swedish carmaker Volvo has indicated that their current generation of diesel engines may well be their last. Citing the rising costs in meeting tougher emission standards as the main reason for their demise, in the future Volvo will switch their focus to electric and hybrid cars. Meanwhile in the US Mercedes Benz has dropped plans to sell diesels due to the increased effort needed to obtain approval from U.S. environmental regulators. In contrast, the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT), the automotive industry body, recently came out strongly defending diesel cars arguing that the latest Euro-6 vehicles were the cleanest in history and “emit vastly lower NOx than their older counterparts. Diesel cars are also a key part of action to tackle climate change while allowing millions of people, particularly those who regularly travel long distances, to do so as affordably as possible” the SMMT Chief Executive, Mike Hawes emphasized. Volkswagen CEO, Matthias Müller has confirmed VW ‘s commitment to the development of more electric vehicles as part of its expansion of “e-mobility” and revealed that between now and the end of next year the VW Group will bring 10 new electrified models to market and by 2025 will add 30 to its line-up. Despite this undertaking diesel will remain a core part of their business and at Volkswagen’s annual general meeting, Muller made this clear, stating that “diesel will remain indispensable for the foreseeable future”. Similarly Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover has vehemently defended diesel cars. In a recent interview with Autocar the Chief Executive believes that old diesel engines cannot be considered the same as the much cleaner and more modern ones. “You can’t say diesel will go in 2020. We need to develop both, internal combustion diesel and petrol engines, in addition to battery electric vehicles.” Speth said “Diesel has to, needs to, have a future.” And it’s not only Europe where diesel is still a consideration, Mazda estimate that over time diesel is likely to account for at least 10 percent of U.S. sales of its redesigned CX-5 crossover. So what is the future for diesel cars in Ireland? As Ireland has stayed within EU limits for air quality there is little impetus here for environmental legislation to restrict diesel in town centres as is the case in many cities in Europe. In addition, a scrappage scheme seems unlikely. Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughton has confirmed to us that he is not considering paying drivers to ditch their diesel cars. Instead, he is exploring the potential of the National Car Testing Service extending their test to extract emission information stored in a vehicle’s data systems to establish it’s motor tax band based on real time performance; for new cars who are not subject to the NCT, the Manufacturer’s declared emission values would continue to apply. While uncertainly persists over the viability of diesel, one thing is certain, rapid change is enroute that will reshape our cars, our driving habits and the world’s energy economy. One independent think tank predicts that in eight years no more petrol or diesel cars, buses or trucks, will be sold, anywhere in the world. “We are on the cusp of one of the fastest, deepest, most consequential disruptions of transportation in history,” said Stanford University economist Tony Seba “In 2025 all new vehicles will be electric, globally“. The road ahead is an unpredictable one but in the meantime it seems we are caught between an immediate health risk due to air pollution and a long term global climate one due to CO2 emissions. The long term future maybe uncertain for diesel but it seems rumours of its imminent demise are premature. #Cars #Motor