Modern diesels are part of the solution to air pollution, argues boss of UK's largest car maker

Car buyers are being confused and misled by debates that label all diesel cars as dirty, according to Jaguar Land Rover’s UK managing director Jeremy Hicks.

In response to mounting media and governmental debate around the future of diesel-powered cars, JLR commissioned a study of public knowledge and attitudes on the fuel. It concluded that the car-buying public didn’t know the facts about latest generation diesel engines or wider issues around pollution.

Autocar survey: diesel sales set to slump due to pollution fears

“Half of car drivers think that road transport is most responsible for urban pollution. That is not true,” said Hicks. “For example, commercial and household properties produce more than half of the particulates polluting our cities.

“More than half of drivers don’t know what Euro 6 standards means. Almost a third don’t know whether the Co2 emissions we want to curb should be attributed to petrol or diesel engines. It is the same when it comes to Nox.”

Hicks said that buyers choosing between petrol and diesel cars had to understand the impact of their decisions: “You can choose diesel to help fight global warming or petrol for better air quality. The government encouraged it [diesel]... to ensure the automotive industry played its part in preventing global warming. It is why we have cut tailpipe emissions by 32% in the last decade.”

Diesel engines: your questions answered

Hicks also argued that headlines and arguments that “demonize diesel” “do not actually address the problem we are trying to solve, highlighting the fact that the Euro 6 compliant engines that are sold in all new cars today are substantially cleaner than previous iterations.

“There has been a seismic shift in diesel technology, almost eliminating NOx. Nobody is trying to ban Euro 6 engines in London, or Stuttgart or other cities looking to cut pollution to be fair, but the impression is being given that all diesels are the same - and it causes confusion and creates false impressions.

“Here is the truth: if you care about air quality in our cities there is nothing wrong with buying a modern diesel car.”

Backing his argument, Hicks explained that particulate emissions from diesel engines had been reduced by 95% in the past decade as a result of the introduction of particulate filters. He also highlighted that a cow emits as much CO2 in a year as a petrol car driving 8000 miles and that omestic wood burners accounted for 17% of PM2.5 particulates in 2013 and road transport 18%.

“I don’t want to stereotype but I can imagine a well-intentioned person deciding against buying a diesel car for environmental reasons as they sling another long onto the wood-burning stove thinking they are returning to nature,” said Hicks. “If air quality is going to improve our vision has to be broader and our focus sharper than just the private motorist.”

Hicks added that the car industry should be seen as part of the solution, as it was investing billions of pounds in developing new, cleaner means of personal transport - money generated through the sales of today’s cars.

“Those sales provide the resource we use to invest in developing new powertrains,” said Hicks. “We are moving to a mobility revolution and it would be tragic for our environment if those developments were delayed because of the negative impact a mishandled, misinformed ‘diesel debate’ had on our industry.”

Our Verdict

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Comments
29

27 June 2017
are diesel. Huge heavy SUV's are a bit stuffed now. So what else is he going to say? not exactly a unbiased opinion.

27 June 2017
All he has to do is provide evidence, I doubt he'd want make those claims without anything to back it up.

27 June 2017
Just proves how the media can miss guide the majority of the public. Nothing wrong with a modern diesel in the correct application, ideally we would have diesel hybrids that ran on electric in the city and diesel out ... best of both worlds.
Made by Volvo, Mercedes, Peugeot/Citroen and JLR.

27 June 2017
Show us the real world air pollution figures Mr Hicks.

I suspect that Diesel Particulate Filters aren't very effective when an engine is working hard - the next air pollution scandal.

It is obvious that air pollution is harmful to people, plants and animals even in tiny concentrations.

I would like to live in a world where all forms of air pollution are illegal.

27 June 2017
“There is nothing wrong with buying a modern diesel car”
“It's driving it that's the problem”

27 June 2017
paddyb wrote:

“There is nothing wrong with buying a modern diesel car”
“It's driving it that's the problem”

If Autocar ran a 'comment of the month' competition, this should win!

27 June 2017
As has been said before, he would say that wouldnt he. And did he pass comment on the earlier diesels JLR sold huge numbers of? Which produced much larger amounts of NOX and particulates.

And do we know that modern diesels wont get much worse as they age?

Full electric, petrol hybrid and petrol all seem a more sensible choice than diesel now, but that wont stop the EU from penalising any manufacturer with excessive fleet CO2 figures. Any possibility that has anything to do with Mr Hicks comments?

27 June 2017
Didn't the say that about Euro 5 compliant cars too

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

27 June 2017
Independent testing shows certain Euro 6 models emitting 15+ times their official figures. The existing regime is utterly discredited. Anyone contemplating a new car might be better advised to wait until the autumn and see if the new tests are more accurate.

27 June 2017
Hicks is answering the wrong question. It maybe that EU6 engines are very clean and even might be as clean as is claimed, however, VW's actions have led to the public losing faith in diesel. It's not an argument about reality it's an argument about losing confidence in a product.

JLR needs to embrace the consumer shift as it has just launched a new range of four cylinder petrol engines. Stop trying to push water uphill, diesel sales are halving so just respond to the reality.

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