Energy News

Driving – For Fun or Otherwise?

           Energy News

For many of us, driving a car is an absolute pleasure while for others it’s a necessity or a chore. Yet, what we drive and what it costs us is to an extent influenced by external factors.

Traditionally, for leisure purposes, we all drove petrol-fuelled cars while the commercial market, with heavy vehicles, thrived on diesel. Then, back in the 1990’s UK Government Scientists advised that driving a diesel-powered vehicle was more environmentally friendly than a petrol powered one. Gordon Brown, the Chancellor at the time, responded in 2001 with a two-tier Vehicle Excise system to help us make our decision and move to diesel. As a consequence, many fleets and private owners switched to the noisier smellier diesel vehicles that were then on offer.

Since then, the engines have become smoother and quieter and virtually odour free, with a turbo performance not far off that offered by a petrol driven engine. CO2 output may be lower on diesel engines but what was ignored at the time was the output of particulates. However, since 2009 diesel cars have been fitted with diesel particulate filters to capture the soot before it leaves the vehicle although if it is only used for short journeys there is the chance that the filter will get blocked up.

So, a diesel car will be more expensive to buy but more robust and should last longer provided that it is used primarily for long journeys and not the stop-start journeys that are used in cities. Petrol-driven engines tend to be smoother and are happy being driven short distances. As a simple guide, perhaps the long distance driver would be better placed to drive a diesel vehicle and the shorter distance driver better placed to drive the petrol vehicle but it is a question of choice, and there will be an overall price difference. Ultimately, though, it is those remaining particulates from diesel that get through into the environment that are causing the concern.

Therefore, today, we are now being told that it was all a mistake and that we should switch back to the cleaner, quieter petrol powered engines and if we don’t, we shall be seriously penalised. Some cities may not allow us in, and where we are allowed in, we may well pay an entry surcharge plus a fifty percent surcharge on parking while a further charge will be covered by increased vehicle tax. Perhaps, even insurance companies will either join in or be forced to do so by an additional surcharge.

The new vehicle taxation rates that are effective from 1st April this year reflect the aggressive campaign against higher performance cars whether petrol or diesel-powered and particularly those with a “list” price in excess of £40,000. No one needs to pay the “list” price, but whatever discount is given below that £40,000 level, it will be worthless when it comes to applying road tax. Check out the rates using the link here.