News on Monday morning that Ford is spending £190 million to expand Dagenham production of 2.0-litre turbodiesels for use in both vans and cars – and has won an £8.9 million grant from the government’s Regional Growth Fund into the bargain – makes certain elements of both the daily media and the political classes look rather silly. And confuses many people.
For many weekends recently, the Sunday papers have published stories from academic research sources to the effect that the decades of encouragement we’ve had to buy diesel cars – mainly because, on balance, they’re cleaner – is completely wrong.
The combination of exhaust particulates and oxides of nitrogen they emit, not well enough measured in current official tests, is allegedly killing both us and our children. London mayor Boris Johnson has been vocal about the damage being done by diesels – yet David Cameron and Vince Cable deal out financial incentives to encourage further production, in outer London, regardless.
What’s the truth, then? The overall situation is simple, but poorly explained. The official tests are indeed inadequate. They need urgent overhaul to better measure particulates and nitrogen oxides, and in typical, not laboratory use.