JLR’s UK Managing Director Jeremy Hicks thinks that the public is being confused and misled by debates that label all diesel cars as dirty.
Speaking to Autocar, Hicks argued that modern diesel vehicles are part of the solution to air pollution and not part of the problem.
JLR commissioned a study of public knowledge and attitudes on diesel-powered cars, which concluded that car buyers didn’t know the facts about the last generation of diesel engines or wider issues around pollution.
“Half of car drivers think that road transport is most responsible for urban pollution. That is not true,” said Hicks. “For example, commercial and household properties produce more than half of the particulates polluting our cities.
“More than half of drivers don’t know what Euro 6 standards means. Almost a third don’t know whether the Co2 emissions we want to curb should be attributed to petrol or diesel engines. It is the same when it comes to Nox.”
What’s more, Hicks said that car buyers choosing between petrol and diesel engines, need to understand the impact of their decision. “You can choose diesel to help fight global warming or petrol for better air quality. The government encouraged it [diesel]… to ensure the automotive industry played its part in preventing global warming. It is why we have cut tailpipe emissions by 32% in the last decade.”
He then highlighted the fact that Euro6-compliant engines are way more clean than previous iterations. “There has been a seismic shift in diesel technology, almost eliminating NOx. Nobody is trying to ban Euro 6 engines in London, or Stuttgart or other cities looking to cut pollution to be fair, but the impression is being given that all diesels are the same – and it causes confusion and creates false impressions.”
“Here is the truth: if you care about air quality in our cities there is nothing wrong with buying a modern diesel car.”
Particulate emissions from diesel engines have been reduced by 95 percent in the past decade, a direct result of the introduction of particulate filters. Hicks also said that a cow emits as much CO2 in a year as a petrol car driving 8000 miles and that domestic wood burners accounted for 17% of PM2.5 particulates in 2013, while road transport accounted for 18%.
“I don’t want to stereotype but I can imagine a well-intentioned person deciding against buying a diesel car for environmental reasons as they sling another long onto the wood-burning stove thinking they are returning to nature,” said Hicks. “If air quality is going to improve our vision has to be broader and our focus sharper than just the private motorist.”