Do you own a diesel engine SUV or 4X4 off-road truck? We’re not surprised if you do. Afterall, the current trend right now is to go for size and power when buying a vehicle, preferably one that can haul and tow heavier loads for better versatility and practicality. Diesel engines offer more torque and are more fuel efficient, making it an excellent choice for most consumers. With diesel-powered vehicles being such a smart choice, the future of diesel in Australia seems secure, or does it?
Recently, news has been circulating about the possibility of banning diesel-engine vehicles in the country. It’s quite alarming considering that 32% of total car sales last year were diesel. Not to mention the heavy transport trucks used by many companies run on diesel. So is there some truth to this news? How did this diesel ban rumour come about?
The European Movement against Diesel
The future of diesel began to be the topic of conversation in Australia after the European Union took significant steps to battle air pollutants. The EU’s new emission standards, the Euro 6, tightened the regulation around diesel engines reducing the permissible Nitrogen Oxide (Nox) emissions from 180 mg per kg of body weight to just 80 mg. As a result of this new standard, older diesel-engine vehicles that exceed the latest emission limit will be removed from the roads. If the trend continues, all diesel engines will eventually be banned in Europe since they’d simply be unable to meet the new standard.
Aside from the implementation of the Euro 6 regulations, major cities have also made bold changes to their ordinances. In fact, Germany has already banned old diesel-engined vehicles from running on two main highways in Hamburg, a city known to go over its NOx limit frequently. The ban took effect last February after the administrative court passed the legislation that will significantly improve the air quality in the city, making Hamburg the first city in the country and the whole of the EU to approve such a ruling.
This ban on older diesel engines, including small and heavy trucks, will get rid of more than 214,000 vehicles from Hamburg streets. After the German city, Madrid, Paris, and Athens could soon follow suit. During the last C40 Mayor’s Summit meeting in Mexico City, the three European cities pledged to completely remove diesel engines from their streets by 2025.
Diesel’s Environmental Effect
Just how bad are diesel-engine emissions?
All fuel combustion engines contribute to air pollution but diesel engines are probably the worst. Aside from NOx, the hazardous combination of Nitrogen Monoxide (NO) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in the air, it also produces tiny soot called particulate matter (PM). It is produced and released after combustion and will stay in the air for a long time. When inhaled, PM can activate cancer cells in the human body. The International Agency for Research on Cancer even tagged PM as part of the Group 1 carcinogens list.
The recent ‘Dieselgate’ controversy added more damage to the already tarnished reputation of diesel. It did not help that a certain European car manufacturer advertised false claims about the clean emissions of its diesel vehicles. Following this perfect storm of events, automotive experts and environmentalists all over the world now believe that diesel no longer has a place in the industry.
Will diesel be banned in Australia?
Yes, it will be, but not in the next 10 years. It will be difficult to remove diesel engines from the roads, especially considering the reliance of heavy transport trucks and larger SUVs used by businesses nationwide. However, we can expect to see fewer diesel-engined vehicles driving around in later years. Since the EU is moving towards the total ban of diesel, the supply of diesel vehicles from European manufacturers will also diminish over the next few years. Looking at American and Asian car manufacturers, which do not focus on diesel passenger vehicles, the future of diesel in Australia is not bright.
Aside from this, Australia has already adopted Euro 6, which has taken effect last July. This will force all diesel vehicles to be compliant with the latest NOx emission restrictions followed in Europe.
What’s next in the Australian Car Industry?
If you’re wondering what will replace diesel engines in the Australian market, look no further than electric vehicles (EVs). Especially since Tesla is currently developing EVs that can tow and haul heavy loads. Not to mention the electric charging network that was recently completed around the country, promoting the use of EVs and hybrid vehicles as opposed to combustion engine vehicles.
For those planning on purchasing a diesel-engined vehicle, you won’t have any problems as long as the vehicle complies with the Euro 6 standards.