New diesel cars: Are they any cleaner?

Reducing the air pollution caused by cars and other vehicles is of high importance to environmental groups, governments, and public health advocates. In recent years, a lot of emphasis has been put on replacing older vehicles, and in particular those with diesel engines, with cleaner, modern alternatives. But are diesel cars really that bad?

According to a new report released by consumer group Which?, they are. In fact, the report has shown that, after rigorous testing, modern diesel cars are worse for the environment than some official tests would suggest. The group claim that 80% of new diesel cars are polluting nitrogen oxides beyond the legal limits; and, some are emitting harmful pollutants at twenty five times the legal level. Nitrogen oxides have been linked to a number of health conditions.

The tests were carried out on 61 new models of vehicle with diesel engines. They all complied with the official Euro 6 emissions standards – manufacturers claim that, because of these standards, these vehicles are the “cleanest in history”. However, Alex Neil, the managing director of homes products and services at Which? argued that the ‘current official tests fail to measure the actual level of emissions that cars are producing on our roads’.

In response to this, Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said: “The non-official test employed by Which? is very different from the current EU test, so it’s no surprise it delivers different results. Only the official tests accurately compare models on a like-for-like basis, helping inform consumers.”

Greenpeace clean air campaigner Morten Thaysen said: “These are yet more shocking findings about just how dirty diesel vehicles are. We already have alternatives, such as hybrids and electric, which are more efficient and better for our air and our climate. Diesel cars are making the air we breathe vile and toxic, so we need to act fast to get them off our roads immediately.”


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