Last week’s poll: What is the solution to the diesel problem?

It is three years since the Volkswagen emissions scandal but controversy continues to mire diesel engines.

Greenpeace air pollution campaigners and medical professionals have blocked more than 800 Volkswagen staff from entering the company’s head office in Milton Keynes. Greenpeace is demanding Volkswagen commit to stop producing diesel cars and go 100% electric.

Sales of diesel engine cars have plummeted in Britain (down 29.6% so far this year) and the latest revelations from Which? will do little to restore consumer confidence in a technology that those in the automotive industry insist is far cleaner than many imagine.

Which? published a report on 61 modern diesel cars it has tested since 2017 and found that in real-world conditions 47 of them exceeded the Euro 6 limit of 0.08g/km of NOx despite claiming to conform to industry standards. As reported last week, on average the cars tested produced 0.27g/km of NOx, which is nearly three and a half times the existing official Euro 6 limit.

Certain BMW and Mercedes diesel models were found to emit between 0.014 and 0.031g/km, indicating that technology for ‘clean’ diesel exists but is not making its way into most vehicles, or isn’t being integrated correctly.

Volkswagen’s UK HQ was then targeted by Greenpeace where activists and medical professionals blockaded the front of the building and set up a diesel pollution clinic in light of the growing body of evidence linking air pollution to respiratory problems.

There was a time when consumers bought diesel cars for their fuel efficiency and relatively benign effect on the environment, but the reverse appears to be true in 2018, so what’s the best way to address the problems associated with diesel?

Of the 665 respondents to last week’s poll, 36 per cent agreed that there should be tougher penalties for offending OEMs, closely followed by 35 per cent who chose the ‘none of the above’ option. Just under a fifth (18 per cent) thought a subsidised diesel scrappage scheme would help, and the remaining 11 per cent thought there should be a ban on non-commercial diesel vehicles.

So far 46 readers have posted Comments, with Prashant Jha writing in to say: “There is a case for the diesel vehicles that comply with legislation. There is no reason why they should be removed from the roads, however OEMs who are “defeating the system” should be prosecuted purely because of the consequent adverse health effects.”

“I believe that if the technology is there it should be used and fraudulent companies persecuted,” added Julian Spence, who went on to say: “The need for an integrated transport infrastructure for the WHOLE country seems an implication but is there a government that believes that the country needs national infrastructure (as the Tories did for setting up the Electricity Grid) – not just for the few (big cities). Please tell me there is a department that considers infrastructure rather than one that supports big projects for companies.”

Of course, the discussion around diesel goes beyond cars and we continue to welcome your thoughts on the issue, particularly how they relate to HGVs and trains.