Parsimonious, low-CO2 diesel cars were not long ago hailed as the answer to hard-pressed drivers’ dreams: a fuel that cleverly managed the trick pulling off lower fuel consumption, exhaust emissions and running costs for higher miles-per-gallon fuel economy and longer range between refills. What wasn’t to like?
French and Italian car makers led by the Fiat group pioneered common-rail injection and by the late 1990s the premium brigade had waded in; suddenly the BMW 330d looked appealingly fast and frugal, revolutionising the appeal of oil-burners. Britain’s motorists responded in kind: sales of diesel cars soared from just 19% of the mix back in 2007 to a record high of 56% in 2011. But then ‘VW Dieselgate’ happened in 2015, poleaxing the fuel’s appeal almost overnight.
The fall-out from the Volkswagen emissions scandal is still being felt – it’s reshaped Europe’s biggest car maker, accelerated the rise of electric cars and made diesel fuel the public enemy no.1 in some quarters of the media. But is the hype justified? Isn’t diesel still a smart choice for many? And what should you do if you own a diesel car or are thinking of buying one in 2018.
Diesel sales collapse: why Britons are being cautious
Car owners are still nervous in the aftermath of the emissions scandal, it seems. Governments in the UK and around the world are ratcheting up the anti-diesel rhetoric and diesel car tax regimes are looking less favourably on cars drinking from the black fuel pump. Since April 2018, Brits first-year vehicle excise duty (VED, or car tax) has jumped one band for diesels – and the company car tax surcharge has crept up from 3% to 4%, too.
The result? Motorists are facing rising tax costs and the spectre of lower residual values – and are voting with their feet. After all, if buyers are deserting diesel in droves (UK sales of diesel plunged by 17% in 2017 and continue to fall dramatically this year), then surely your oil-burning car will be worth less when you come to sell it? No wonder motorists are left confused…
But what should you do? Should you consider selling your diesel car now, before values collapse? Or is this all a storm in a teacup? In this explainer, we’ll look at all the issues surrounding diesel cars in 2018 – and attempt to answer the most common questions owners are facing.