Diesel ‘Demonised’ In London

Sat 23rd Jul 2022

Once hailed as the more affordable and economical alternative to petrol, governments and local councils even campaigned for more drivers to turn to diesel, but those very same authorities are now turning their back on the fuel alternative.

New analysis shows to what extent the Ultra-Low Emission Zone is having on diesel vehicle numbers in London, with ownership of privately owned diesel cars falling by a quarter in the first quarter of this year.

The impact of the ULEZ expansion, which in October last year saw the boundary moved to include some of the capital’s busiest stretches of roads, including the North and South Circular, has seen owners decide that they can no longer afford to run a diesel. The sky-high fuel prices will also play a part in seeing numbers fall from 155,274 in 2021 to just 116,796 for the same period in 2022.

Diesel cars have slightly different rules to petrol, with only Euro5 models granted free access to the charging zone, while petrol cars qualify if they are Euro4 or Euro5. That slight change means that there are thousands of vehicles built before 2015 which will now have to pay £12.50 a day to drive in the capital. The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has promised to extend the ULEZ boundary even further, meaning even more misery for diesel owners.

The trend is being copied across the nation, with ownership of diesel cars falling by 1.7% per cent in the first three months of this year, compared to the same period in 2021.

“Today's official vehicle licensing statistics signal further how what was once the 'dash for diesel' has become the demise of the diesel car,' says Jack Cousens, the AA's head of roads policy.

“Not so long ago, car owners were encouraged to buy diesel models to cut CO2 emissions and reduce their costs through diesel's better fuel efficiency. 

“Many older car owners bought one for what they thought would be their last car in retirement.

“They now find themselves caught in the pincer of record pump prices that are 8p dearer than petrol and the demonisation of the fuel through city access charges and parking costs that penalise these cars. 

“Very often, this campaign against diesel is carried out by the very councils that encouraged their take-up through CO2-related resident car parking permit charges.”