Diesel cars reputation is in decline as registrations tumble
Diesel cars are at the centre of scrutiny in the car industry at the moment.
Ever since awareness of the damaging effects of the fuel type’s emissions were brought to light, public opinion of diesel has plummeted drastically.
Motorists in Britain are immensely concerned that they will continue to be punished across the country for owning these vehicles, with higher tax, parking rates, fees and clean air zones all being introduced.
Diesel drivers are also outraged by the fact that they are being penalised for owning a diesel cars, despite being encouraged to buy one by a previous Government.
These vehicles were incentivised to buy back in 2001, but now drivers face higher fees and restrictions, as the Government u-turns on its stance.
Clearly, the negative anti-diesel rhetoric, which hit an inflexion point during the VW diesel gate scandal, is affecting the reputation for the fuel and its demand.
New diesel car registrations have crashed in Britain this year, with there being 23.5 per cent less diesel registered in February in 2018 compared to 2017.
Market share also declined from 44.5 per cent to 35 per cent in the same year.
Nathan Coe, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer at Auto Trader, argues that diesel is still a popular and suitable choice for many drivers.
“There’s no question that the ongoing demonisation of diesel has had a negative impact on the new car market. Consumer confidence has been significantly affected by government rhetoric which at best has been limited, and at worst contradictory.
“However, despite the turbulence, used diesels have continued to show incredible resilience.
“Our Retail Price Index, which is based on over 500,000 price observations, shows that used diesels are not just holding their value, but are in fact growing.
“Between 2016 and 2017, the average price of a second-hand diesel increased 2% on a like-for-like basis, and last month they grew 3% on February 2017.
“What’s more, according to our customer data from over 13,000 UK car retailers, diesels made up seven of the top 10 fastest selling used cars in February.
“They also remain the most popular fuel type searched for on our marketplace, accounting for 53% of all fuel related searches on Auto Trader.
“That’s because they remain an excellent choice for millions of motorists who require greater fuel efficiency for long distance and out of town driving.
“For those needs, there is no better alternative and diesel owners shouldn’t feel compelled to sell.
It is older diesel cars that are the issue and less so modern variants.
“However, if you’re driving an older diesel car, then you could receive a significant financial incentive to trade it in for a new, more efficient Euro6 engine car, through the many manufacturer scrappage schemes available,” he continued.
“These modern diesel engines are in many cases greener than their petrol equivalents.”
There is opinion among many motoring experts that drivers should still just look for the most suitable car for their lifestyle.
Tamzen Isacsson, SMMT Director, said: “The latest diesel cars continue to be a popular choice for many drivers, valued for their high performance, lower CO2 levels and lower fuel consumption – especially important to those who travel longer distances.
“Ongoing manufacturer investment means consumers and businesses have an ever-increasing range of low and zero emission cars to choose from.
“Consumers should be encouraged to buy the right car for their lifestyle and driving needs irrespective of fuel type – whether that be petrol, electric, hybrid or diesel as it could save them money.”
However, Aaron Kiely, clean air campaigner at Friends of the Earth said that there is “mounting evidence about the pollution caused by even the newest diesel vehicles.”
“Electric vehicles are also becoming an increasingly viable option; it’s therefore no surprise that motorists are choosing cleaner alternatives,” he continued.
“Every diesel car off the road is a critical step to cleaning up Britain’s filthy air.”
The clean air campaigner, however, did state that drivers must be compensated and helped to make the switch to cleaner fuel.
“Drivers need financial help to get out of their diesels and in to cleaner vehicles, such as electric ones.
“To do this we need a nationwide diesel scrappage scheme – and big manufacturers who have got us in to this mess by cheating emissions standards need to cough up and help pay for it.
“The truth is, if we are really serious about protecting children’s lungs, we need fewer cars on the roads.
“That’s why it’s so vital we invest in better and cheaper public transport, and help for people to cycle and walk safely.”