The backlash against diesel has caused average CO2 emissions of new cars to rise by 0.8% – the first increase on record – as buyers turn to higher-CO2 petrols over lower-CO2 diesels.
Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveal that average CO2 emissions for new cars registered in 2017 rose to 121.0g/km, up from 120.1g/km. This came despite the fact that the market’s new cars are on average 12.6% more efficient than their predecessors.
The rise, which marks the end to 20 years of consistent decline and comes after a record low CO2 output was recorded in 2016, is therefore directly linked to the collapse in diesel sales in the UK market in 2017. Diesel sales fell by 31% across the year as consumers turned their backs on the black pump.
Government legislation is blamed by SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes, who said: “The industry shares government’s vision of a low carbon future and is investing to get us there – but we can’t do it overnight; nor can we do it alone.
“The anti-diesel agenda has set back progress on climate change, while electric vehicle demand remains disappointingly low amid consumer concerns around charging infrastructure availability and affordability.”
Last year, the government dealt a double blow to diesel, announcing that all new non-electrified petrol and diesel car sales will be halted from 2040 onwards before confirming a tax hike for diesel cars in the autumn budget.
This anti-diesel legislation and the anti-diesel messages that accompanied them prompted a fall in consumer confidence. The knock-on effect has seen manufacturers begin to withdraw diesels from their line-ups. In the past week alone, Porsche stopped production of its current diesel models, and Fiat Chrysler revealed intentions to abandon diesel altogether by 2022.