Drivers have been warned the value of 11 million diesel cars could crash “over- night” under a threatened Government clampdown.
The Mirror reports that documents buried in last month’s Budget revealed ministers are looking at “the appropriate tax treatment of diesel vehicles”. It is believed this could lead to tax hikes for diesel cars in the Autumn Budget.
Jim Holder, editorial director of What Car? magazine, told the Mirror: “If the decision is to promote petrol or electrified cars, then diesel cars will lose value overnight. They will be less desirable on the used car market, and owners could face punishing tax and congestion charges.”
The threat comes as owners of older diesel cars are set to be penalised under plans by Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to introduce a £10 “toxicity levy” for driving into central London later this year.
Last month Transport Minister Chris Grayling said motorists should think twice before buying a diesel, and should look at hybrid or electric cars in-stead. It prompted the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders to warn of a growing “anti-diesel agenda”. The trade body says diesel cars are being singled out as the Government battles to meet EU emissions targets.
The last Labour Government went out of its way to encourage diesel cars as they emit less of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide than petrol versions. But there is now mounting concern that they produce more dangerous nitrogen oxides, pollutants blamed for 50,000 to 60,000 deaths in the UK each year.
There are reports that the Government is considering a scrappage scheme to encourage owners of “dirty diesel” cars and vans to trade them in. Diesels have until recently accounted for about half of all new car sales. However, recent data from the SMMT showed sales of diesels plunged more than nine per cent last month. Car industry insiders say comparing old and new diesels is unfair.
They admit there are huge benefits in getting older diesel cars off the road, especially in congested cities where the pollutants are most likely to be breathed in, but say the latest engines are a huge step forward.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Nearly one in two new car buyers chose a diesel last year and getting more Euro 6 diesels on the road will be part of the solution as we also strive to meet our climate change targets. Measures to reduce congestion will help as will funding announcements for the design and development of battery technology.”