The Liberal Democrats political party wants to ban the sale of diesel cars in Britain from 2025, despite concerns from some manufacturers that this could hamper progress.
In its manifesto, the Lib Dem party cites diesel pollution as a key contributor to the UK’s air pollution problem, which is associated with 40,000 deaths per year.
To reduce the fuel’s impact, the party says it will pass a Green Transport Act that would introduce an Air Quality plan, where the sale of diesel cars and vans would be banned and a diesel scrappage scheme would be introduced.
However, some leading voices in the automotive industry are concerned that this type of policy could hamper progress to reducing overall emissions.
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) CEO Ralf Speth has been particularly vocal on the matter, telling Autocar that the income diesel sales generate can be used to develop more advanced low-emissions technology. He said: “We have to show our [diesel] technology is the best you can buy, to reduce the damage to health and the environment."
Recent market trends show that customers are already swapping diesel for petrol, but this in itself is hampering progress in the fight to lower CO2 emissions. Some manufacturers, most recently Volvo, have responded to this by revealing that they could drop diesel engines altogether.
Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: "From today's perspective, we will not develop any more new generation diesel engines”.
Other brands such as Volkswagen are planning on removing diesel from their small car line-ups, keeping the fuel exclusively for larger models, with small-capacity petrol-electric hybrids looking set to fill the void.
In its manifesto, the Lib Dem party says it wants to increase the uptake of this type of drivetrain as well as fully electric vcars by adjusting taxation to give more breaks to low and zero-emissions vehicle drivers, while penalising higher polluters. It would back this with extended Ultra-Low Emission Zones (ULEZs) in ten more towns and cities.
Diesel taxis and buses in urban areas would be affected as well, with the Lib Dems forcing them to switch to ultra-low emissions or zero-emissions fuels by 2022. To help boost supply, the party wants to up support for the manufacturing of low-emissions and electric vehicles (EVs).
As part of its wider air pollution plans, it wants to introduce a Zero Carbon Britain Act, which would set new legally binding targets to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2040 and to zero by 2050. This would affect all industries and not just the automotive sector.