In their most dynamic move for years, the UK’s biggest sellers of diesel engines came together today - via their uniting body, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) - in a bid to stop the recent demonisation of diesel engines.

They tried to explain that, far from being part of the problem, latest Euro 6 designs are part of the solution both to improving air quality and reducing CO2.

At a morning meeting in central London attended by the UK chiefs of Ford, BMW, VW Group, Vauxhall and Jaguar Land Rover, SMMT CEO Mike Hawes presented research showing that three-quarters of UK motorists were against penalties for the country’s cleanest diesels. He also said that a staggering 87% of them had never heard of Euro 6, the clean-air standard due to be implemented later this year (and embraced long ago by many of the majors).

Euro 6 has already all but eliminated particulates from diesel exhausts and put them close to petrol engines as low producers of smog-inducing oxides of nitrogen - while maintaining the diesel’s long-time attraction of producing around 20% less CO2 than equivalent petrol units.

Car manufacturers have become alarmed by what they see as inappropriate parking penalties about to be imposed on diesel cars by London boroughs, by suggestions that Paris may be the first of several European capitals to ban diesels from its centre, and by highly publicised academic research that has failed to acknowledge latest technological advances.