Not so long ago, it seemed as though everyone thought diesel cars were the saviours of the motoring world. They tend to be much more efficient than the equivalent petrol, with much better fuel economy and CO2 figures. With this in mind, governments across the world have incentivised the running of oil-burning cars, particularly France, where the fuel is significantly cheaper than unleaded, and 80 per cent of cars run on the ‘devil’s fuel’.
However, it turns out the French government has properly shot itself in the foot over this, as they - and others - are now realising there’s a little more to being eco friendly than just focusing on reducing CO2 emissions. The issue with diesels is they puff out all sorts of nasty things from their tail pipes, including nitrogen oxides (NO2) and particulate matter, and the modern crop of oil-burning vehicles simply haven’t cleaned up their act enough.
They’re still letting out far more NO2 - which can cause respiratory issues plus heart and lung disease - than petrol cars, and the filters designed to catch the particulate matter can cause running issues, leading to many owners removing them altogether. As a consequence of the former, numerous European cities experienced levels of NO2 far beyond the limit set by the European Union.
Mayor of Paris (a city no stranger to drastic emissions-cutting measures) Anne Hidalgo has extreme plans to clean up the French capital’s air quality, saying recently “I want diesel cars out of Paris by 2020.” For a country with so many diesels on the road, that’s a rather big deal.
It’s not just Paris, either. London Mayor Boris Johnson plans to raise the congestion charge for diesel vehicles from £10 to £20. Drivers of petrol cars built before 2006 will also bit hit by the higher charges. Some campaigners think that as in Paris, an eventual outright ban for diesels is on the cards in the British capital.
The tide seems to be turning against diesel cars, so unless manufactures can find ways to drastically curb the contents of their exhaust pipes, the future for motors powered by the stuff from the black pump looks decidedly dicey.