Dirty diesels? Cleandiesels? Not anoption, it seems …

Date: Friday 8th December 2017

JUST one in 100 car buyers is actively looking at newelectric vehiclesdespite the Government announcing an investment of more than £500 million in incentives and infrastructure, according to data released by What Car?

In the two weeks since Chancellor Philip Hammond caused mass confusion over the future of cleaner diesels in his Budget, analysis of new car inquiries has shown no immediate downturn in consumer interest in diesels; a third (30 per cent.) are still considering the fuel type.

Mr. Hammond also announced plans to extend the Government’s plug-in car grant to 2020 — the equivalent of a £100 million investment — and a further £400 million to increase electric vehicle charging points.

But despite new car buyers being able to secure significant discountsof more than 30 per cent. or £8,000 on electric models like theNissan LEAFand more than 40 per cent. on theRenault Zoe, two-thirds of car buyers are still looking for petrol cars. Searches for the best deals on hybrids like theToyota Prius account for eight per cent. of all dealer inquiries.

From April, the Government intends to increase taxation on new diesel cars from unless they meet a new standard called Real Driving Emissions, Step 2 — a certification that does not come into force until 2020, meaning that no new cars will be able to prove they meet it.

Steve Huntingford, editor of What Car?, explained: “Interest in electric vehicles is at an all-time high, with some excellent new cars on the market this year, greater range and shorter charging times than ever and some very attractive discounts available to tempt buyers.

“But the fact remains that the car-buying public is only at the start of the journey from switching from engine cars to electric ones — and until more people are convinced of the benefits of electric cars the Government should be trying to encourage people to move into newer, cleaner cars rather than punishing them for doing so with added taxes.

“Right now, it is clear the Government’s strategy to demonise the new, low-CO2 clean diesels rather than introduce acar scrappage schemeto take older, dirtier diesels off the road and protect the CO2 targets, is not having the impact the Chancellor wanted.”