Currently reading: SMMT calls for end of ‘demonisation’ of diesel cars
Car industry organisation launches new consumer campaign to defend clean diesel technology from over-zealous policy makers
Matt Burt
2 mins read
11 March 2015

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has today launched a nationwide campaign to challenge what it calls the “increasing demonisation of diesel” as a fuel for cars.

The organisation has joined forces with major car makers including BMW, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Volkswagen to “set the record straight on diesel cars” in light of “widespread confusion” over pollutants emitted by diesel engines.

Diesel was once championed by policy makers for being the most efficient fuel type, but there has been a dramatic about-turn in recent months, with nitrogen oxides and other particulates produced by older diesel engines being blamed for respiratory-related health problems.

SMMT chiefs are concerned that the negative stories about diesels could deter motorists from considering the most modern and cleanest diesel cars as their next purchase.

They are also calling for policy makers not to levy financial penalties against motorists who drive diesels; some local councils in London are charging diesel-owning residents more to park outside their homes than their petrol-driving neighbours, while other local authorities are imposing surcharges based on a vehicle’s Euro standard rating, and yet more are levying charges regardless of performance.

“Today’s diesel engines are the cleanest ever, and the culmination of billions of pounds of investment by manufacturers to improve air quality,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “Bans and parking taxes on diesel vehicles therefore make no sense from an environmental point of view.

“We need to avoid penalising one vehicle technology over another and instead encourage the uptake of the latest low-emission vehicles by consumers. The allegations against diesel cars made in recent months threaten to misguide policy making and undermine public confidence.”

A poll by YouGov indicated a startling lack of knowledge over the efforts made by the motor industry to improve the cleanliness of diesel engines. Just under one in five of those surveyed correctly indentified that power stations, and not diesel cars, are the biggest contributor of nitrogen oxides.

Almost three quarters of motorists surveyed were against penalties for the UK’s cleanest diesel engines, while 87% of respondents were unaware of the latest Euro 6 regulation-compliant vehicle emission technology.

More information about the SMMT’s new ‘Diesel Facts’ campaign can be found at or via a leaflet distributed at car dealers.

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11 March 2015
On a more serious note it wouldn't be half as bad if people realised that petrol would have been the better option and not just for my health. They're the sought who buy diesel super mini's and then do 8000 miles a year, perhaps they should have read the WHO(World Health Org.) report on diesel pollutants first. Anyhow looks like diesel sales are about to slow either way. RIP, if a diesel can be peaceful that is.

11 March 2015
xxxx wrote:

They're the sought who buy diesel super mini's and then do 8000 miles a year, perhaps they should have read the WHO(World Health Org.) report on diesel pollutants first.

I have two diesels, one does about 8k a year, the other 4k a year, both which cost £20 a year to tax. When buying a car, I prefer to look at my bank balance. And when driving my car, I see cows farting their gases in field, I see Grangemouth oil refinery in the distance, I watch the transatlantic traffic fly overhead, the juggernaut lorries pass by, buses with no people on them, empty daytime trains. I see crowds of schoolkids in the local fish & chip shop at lunchtime, I see people smoking etc. You seriously believe I should be thinking to myself that my 4k miles a year is responsible for killing people?

11 March 2015
A sense of shared responsibility is one of the things that sets us apart from other animals and enabled us to build complex societies.

But if it's all a bit complex for you, keep it simple and just look after no.1.

11 March 2015
Even on the latest Euro VI cars, the suggestion is that real world nitrogen oxide and particulate matter levels are much higher than claimed, especially when the car has a few miles under its wheels. That's the very real concern that can't be dismissed out of hand.

I'd like to see this scientifically tested before we go one way or the other on bands, restrictions etc. Hopefully the new WLTP economy/emissions test procedure will sort this out once and for all.

However, I think the motor industry is for more concerned about meeting EU fleet average CO2 levels without diesel cars than anything else.

11 March 2015
Oilburner wrote:

However, I think the motor industry is for more concerned about meeting EU fleet average CO2 levels without diesel cars than anything else.

This is exactly why the motor industry is upset. Diesel makes it easier to achieve the EU CO2 targets. We really need to remove the financial incentive to use diesel to get a level playing field

11 March 2015
The problem isn't brand new cars, it's what happens to them over a couple of years of hard use/abuse. See plenty of 2-3 year old diesels blowing out lots of black smoke, which I'm sure they didn't the day they left the showroom.


11 March 2015
...absolutely, couldn't agree more March. I am fed up with having to press re-circulate because the 10/11 plate or older vehicle in front is chucking out clouds of crap every time it accelerates.
How is the DPF working there?
Filthy things, and so unnecessary as you say, there may be a reason for a large 4x4 or van to run a diesel engine but not 'local run' super mini's. Its just daft.

11 March 2015
Is that 10/11 plate chucking out plumes of black smoke exempt from MOT test?

As if a poorly maintained petrol car doesn't pollute more than when it came of the production line.

11 March 2015
SMMT is being disingenuous here - this is a campaign to sell more cars. That is their job and answer to everything, but we need a more grown up debate on this issue.

As has been said, the biggest problem is that diesel vehicles emit far higher emissions in real world use and their pollution seems to worsen dramatically over time - so pretending that Euro 6 is the magic answer is nonsense. And transport IS the biggest source of NOX where people live - affecting the air quality on our streets.

Frankly, asking the SMMT to comment on pollution issues is like asking the Bankers Association to comment on financial regulation - they are keen to voice their opinions, but they are not necessarily on our side.

11 March 2015
Much has been done to improve the efficiency of both petrol & diesel engines even discounting hybrid technology, what we need to sort out is the problem that occurs when someone with a political or ideological agenda comes up with some crack pot notion such as "we are making the planet warmer and our use of fossil fuels is the problem" this is basically the old problem- solution tactic so favoured by our squeaky clean politicians. You're the problem and the solution is if we tax you more the problem is solved. Any tax based on Co2 is a SCAM.


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