Are diesel cars really more polluting than petrol cars?

Added: 11 June 2018

Over the last several years, diesel cars have fast become the subject of negativity due to media reports of the high and harmful emissions they produce, but is this really the whole picture?

Many governments, including our own, are intending to place restrictions, at the very least, on their use in built up and congested areas. I recently met with a representative of the Norwegian organisation of Car Dealers and Independent Retailers and discussed how the Norwegian Government had decided many years ago on a clear objective for only selling zero emission new cars by 2025. To encourage this, incentives are on offer in Norway, including an advanced electric charging network and huge financial savings on purchase. To date this year, almost 22% of new car sales are zero emission cars, and in addition to this around 20% are plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).

I do wonder if this really is the right direction, if the only focus is on emissions? There is no question that older diesel engines can produce some significantly filthy air, and being an asthma sufferer I’m the first to groan at the sight of a car spewing out a black stench in its wake. But modern diesel engines are arguably just as clean as modern petrol engines - and have to be, due to the strict EU requirements now in place.

In order to achieve these standards, modern diesels have to include a particulate filter. It’s for this reason driving a diesel car on only short trips leads to a build up in the filter followed by performance issues. Diesel cars are more suited to higher mileage users who tend to have a higher percentage of motorway use.

So the question remains: Are diesel cars really more polluting than petrol cars. At K and R Motor Company we don’t think so.

Trasie Broad

K & R Motor Company

Key: Co – Carbon Monoxide Nox – Nitrogen Dioxide PM – Particulate Matter