- Average NOX (nitrogen oxides) emissions of all engines in 2001 are 84% higher than today.
- Average PM (particulate matter) emissions of diesels made in 1993 are 96% higher than today.
Latest Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) figures suggest there are 19.3m pre-Euro 5 cars on UK roads today - the age of vehicle that these scrappage schemes are targeting - so it’s not hard to imagine the benefits of swapping them all for latest generation cars (although, if you can’t, Ford says its the equivalent of 15 million tonnes of CO2 a year, the equivalent to the annual output of three coal-fired power stations).
But - and it’s a big but - how many owners of cars that are worth £2000 or thereabouts (the exact figure depends on the scheme) are about to go out and buy a new Ford, let alone a new BMW or Mercedes? Even at the lowest end of the scale that means swapping a £2000 car for an £12,000 one, but at the top end the suggestion is that a £40,000 car might be a viable exchange for a £2000 one. Yes, comparable lease deals will be available, but in many cases that would likely mean swapping your wheels for a deposit (or part of one) for a three-year loan.
I suppose there might be some two-car households who want to upgrade the family banger, or some students whose beady-browed parents want them in something safer, but the fact is that most owners of older cars are in them because that’s what they can afford. And, should they need to upgrade, they are far more likely to look to the used car fleet for newer but cheaper alternatives than make the leap into a plug-in hybrid.
Then there’s the practicalities. Most of the schemes set a value for your used car around £2000 - but there are many cars from pre-2010 that are worth considerably more. Trade in your Ford Focus from the end of that period, for instance, and you’d hope for between £2500 and £5500 depending on condition and specification. Let’s hope the dealers are honest on that one, or that sellers are smart enough to do their homework first, using some of the free valuations tools available online, such as our sister brand What Car?’s.
There’s also the new car discount to consider, because the keen haggler would expect some further savings there. More of What Car?’s data suggest that the average haggle across the UK car market should net a saving of £2533 - a figure which can admittedly vary wildly from car type and brand, but one which indicates that you may want to put your fortune in your own hands rather than rely on these scrappage schemes alone - or, perhaps, if allowable, negotiate like crazy and only reveal your trade-in banger at the last moment.
And then, finally, there are the age-old arguments over whether it is better for the planet to scrap a functioning car and replace it with a new one, or just run the old one into the ground. The arguments have run many times before, and the answer depends very much on individual circumstances.
At the end of all this, you may be left wondering why there’s so much fuss about these scrappage schemes, because the reality is unlikely to be as world-changing as the headlines suggest. I’ll doff the cap I don’t wear to the early movers for forcing some positive headlines at a time the car industry looked like being overwhelmed by negativity, and I applaud the lucky few who can use this turn of generosity from sales-eager manufacturers to grasp a great deal. However, I very much suspect the real triumph will be in positively highlighting the low emission technology that is available today, rather than actually getting a lot more of it onto our roads.