Why do diesel engines have a bad name?

While diesel engines are meant to be more efficient than petrol engines, diesel cars have received a tremendous amount of bad press. They are said to release toxic gases such as noxious pollutants which are linked to premature deaths. With over half our cars in Europe being Diesel this is extremely alarming.

In 2015 the Voltzwagon scandal occurred. The car company were found to be cheating car emissions tests in America. Their vehicles were emitting up to forty times more NOx than their lab ‘testing’ showed. Once this was revealed their stock prices fell by a third in a few days. They lost the trust of their customers.

Voltzwagon’s marketing stated that diesel engines emit less carbon dioxide than petrol engines. They painted their vehicles to be environmentally friendly.

While, yes, their vehicles may emit less carbon dioxide. Their brochures forgot to mention that their cars also emit high levels of particulates which have been proven to increase the risk of breathing problems, cancers and heart attacks for those breathing in the emissions.

In essence, they were ‘green washing,’  deceptively marketing a product showing it to be sustainable.

What has been done since?

A BBC article states: “Modern diesels essentially do not have a particulates problem…The filters clean up 99% of the particles. So long as they are not tampered with, they are very effective”

Can it really be this simple?

Following regulations put in place by the government in September 2015 vehicles in the UK have to be Euro 6, meaning they are only allowed to emit a certain amount of harmful emissions. This has meant companies are having to develop quickly to ensure their vehicles are compliant.

With technology can diesel cars be environmental?

As mentioned earlier diesel cars can be extremely efficient. They produce less carbon dioxide per litre of fuel compared to petrol cars. However, they need to address the issue of releasing particulates.

Adblue is a liquid that is stored in the tank and injected into the exhaust pipe. The liquid causes a chemical reaction to take place that converts harmful Nox particulates into nitrogen and water.

Can Adblue be used in all cars?

Unfortunately, Adblue tends to only be used in newer, expensive, larger vehicles. One might argue that the carbon footprint of buying a new vehicle is worse than having an older one. Plus, if this technology is not affordable it is hard for us to invest in.

What is the answer?

There is no clear-cut answer as to what the most environmental option is. There are many aspects to consider. Before ruling out diesel ask questions such as, does this car have Adblue or any filters? How fuel efficient is this make?

Always look at the bigger picture and try to reduce car journeys as much as possible.

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