Fossil Fuels

How can ‘diesel’ be embraced once again by concerned consumers?

By November 19, 2018 No Comments

Diesel. The ‘dirty’ diesel debate rumbles on. However, new data proves the emissions from modern diesel vehicle ranges, are less aggressive. How can ‘diesel’ be embraced once again by confused & concerned consumers?

Diesel fuel has had a considerable & worsening reputation as the ‘dirty’ fossil fuel responsible for a vast majority of the global emissions issues. Fossil fuels such as coal, oil & natural gas have sustained the human race in transportation & energy supplies since the dawn of the industrial revolution. However, only now, with the global scientific data collations, have we been able to see the impact these valuable resources have done.

Nevertheless, the media has suddenly begun to unearth a more balanced view of the diesel argument, something engineers & scientists alike are grateful for. Having a balanced view of the impact of the modern fuelling systems & the emissions they are currently producing, is essential to educating the vast majority of ethically minded consumers as to a greater understanding of the continued need for fossil fuels, but with a modern twist.

One of the data sets made available recently, comes from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA)

“Some 270 new types of diesel cars type-approved against the latest Euro 6d-TEMP standard were introduced on the European market over the past year. The new data shows that all of these diesel cars performed well below the NOx threshold of the real driving emissions (RDE) test, which applies to all new car types since September 2017. What is more, already today most of these vehicles show results that are below the stricter NOx threshold that will be mandatory from January 2020.

Each of these 270 RDE-compliant diesel vehicle types represents a whole ‘family’ of similar cars of differing variants, so a multitude of low-emitting diesel cars are now available on the market. The German automobile club, ADAC, estimates that there are more than 1,200 different RDE-compliant cars available today1. Moreover, their availability is increasing rapidly.” (1)

This is great news for the manufacturers, particularly those who have seen a considerable slump in their diesel car & vehicle sales this year. Sadly, consumer confidence was rocked by the VW emissions scandal in 2015 & with the continued pressure of the global media machines perpetually slamming diesel as the ‘dirty’ fuel; is it any wonder that the diesel industry has seen a downward trend in sales?

The uncertainty surrounding the ‘Brexit’ deal & emissions regulations, has added an additional layer of anxiety & another reason that the UK vehicle sales market continues to decline.

‘The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the slowdown was due largely to the impact of diesel car emissions on air quality and uncertainty about what taxes and restrictions will be introduced on them, as well as tougher emissions regulations in the EU.’(2)

Frustrations amongst some of the key automotive, haulage & powertrain industry leaders, is palpable, as the conflicting messages regarding emissions expectations, particularly in the United Kingdom & Europe, keep changing. With the original date of 2040 set to ban all new diesel & petrol vehicles in the UK now being brought forward to 2032, what infrastructure is there in place to support this?

As Dolphin N2 have explored previously, the infrastructure for an entire electrification of our vehicles is predicted to cost £billions & take far longer to put in place than the dates set for the ban. Although, we appreciate that traditional fuel vehicles will continue to remain on the roads for the foreseeable future, what are the policy makers doing to reassure the manufacturers of traditional combustion engines that they can still manufacture these traditional systems & continue to develop cleaner & emission free versions of them?

Furthermore, certain boroughs of the UK, for example, are now making entire neighbourhoods & high streets ‘diesel’ free zones & insisting on considerable fines for those who break these new expectations. Yet companies within these boroughs & dwindling high streets are still reliant on deliveries from international sources to supply their businesses, these being delivered by haulage trucks. Therefore, does this not mean that the costs of products will have to increase to account for these levies? & in doing so, will this not impact on high street prices, which are already higher than the internet shopping chains alternatives?

The CONCAWE report recently made tangible projections about how a multi-fuelled approach to the automotive fuel dilemma, could still reduce global emissions to their required levels by 2050. In addition to this, some of the heavy weights in the fuel industries are striving to ensure that a diverse selection of fuel options can & will be available in the future & this includes biofuels, biodiesel & zero emissions diesels.

One of the global fuel giants, BP, has harnessed the need to help support the ethically minded consumer & offer support in reducing their carbon footprint. Not only are they forging ahead with renewable gas fuels for transportation, the ‘Ultimate’ range of diesel products, but Castrol, their oil division, is producing advanced oil systems for improved longevity of engine performance & are certified as carbon neutral in accordance with PAS 2060. These are all pre-purchase concerns a lot of modern ethically minded consumers will feel assured about. BP are also mindful of the multi-fuel approach to the transportation systems future.

‘Oil is the primary fuel for transport today. We expect its share of the total energy mix will gradually decline as we see more energy efficiency in traditional engines, greater use of biofuels and natural gas, and growth in fully electric and hybrid vehicles in the years ahead.’ (3)

Daimler AG consolidate this view by saying:

“On November 14, 2018, the European Parliament voted on targets for CO₂ reductions for heavy commercial vehicles and supported a reduction of 20 percent by 2025 and of at least 35 percent by 2030.

These targets go far beyond what is technically and economically feasible during the available time periods. And they set the wrong priorities for further reducing trucks’ CO₂ emissions. If these targets are set, manufacturers and customers will incur enormous expenses and enormous fines will be imposed on truck manufacturers in the case of non-achievement. This would adversely affect investment and thus jeopardize the future viability of the entire industry.” (4)

With Daimler AG’s concise response to the European expectations corroborating what others in industry have agreed, where does this leave the consumer, let alone the manufacturers & engineers with regards to the future of our fossil fuel industries?

With conflicting messages still abound from global policy makers, it is however reassuring that the global engineering of technologies to continue to reduce emissions, whilst still embracing the need for a balanced fossil fuel transportation system, continues to be developed despite the uncertainties being experienced.


Written by Katy-Jane Mason on behalf of Dolphin N2.