UK vehicles using twice as much diesel as petrol
A rise in diesel consumption was revealed just one day after a tax increase on new diesel cars was announced in the Budget.
Vehicles in the UK are using twice as much diesel as petrol, figures show.
Consumption of diesel reached a record 24.6 million tonnes last year compared with 12 million tonnes of petrol, according to the Department for Transport (DfT).
The data was published a day after Chancellor Philip Hammond was accused of adding to the “demonisation of diesel” by raising taxes on new diesel cars.
Sales of new diesel models have fallen since the Volkswagen emissions scandal emerged in September 2015.
But the impact on diesel usage has been limited as more than half of consumption is by vans, lorries, buses and coaches.
Diesel usage grew 4% year-on-year in 2016, while petrol was down 1%.
Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said: “These figures reveal just how deeply diesel power has penetrated motoring in this country.
“Beyond the 12 million diesel cars, there’s also four million vans and half a million HGVs, the vast majority of which have diesel engines.
“Whether we like it or not it’s going to take time to halt the diesel juggernaut and ‘green’ a fleet of this scale.
“Policymakers must bear in mind the significance to the economy of all the business and personal trips these vehicles make, day in, day out, around the UK.”
In Wednesday’s Budget, Mr Hammond announced that new diesel cars failing to meet upcoming emissions standards will be subjected to a one-band increase in the first year vehicle excise duty (VED) rate from April 1.
The cost of the policy to motorists will range from £20 for a Ford Fiesta to £500 for a luxury Porsche Cayenne.
To avoid customers being affected by the policy, manufacturers must ensure cars meet tougher real world emissions standards which will become compulsory from January 2020.
Setting out the policy in the Commons, Mr Hammond said the tax system can play an important role in protecting the environment.
“We owe it to our children that the air they breathe is clean,” he added.
Our CEO @MikeHawesSMMT responds to the #Budget2017 : "Our greatest concern is the continuing mixed messages around diesel which will only deter and confuse the public further" https://t.co/Ats3rhgtUp pic.twitter.com/MSfl6Pj9ez— SMMT (@SMMT) November 23, 2017
Mike Hawes, chief executive of trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, warned that car makers will struggle to adapt to the requirements.
He said: “It’s unrealistic to think that we can fast-track the introduction of the next generation of clean diesel technology, which takes years to develop, in just four months.
“This Budget will also do nothing to remove the oldest, most polluting vehicles from our roads in the coming years.”
AA president Edmund King said diesel cars meeting current Euro 6 emissions standards are a vast improvement on previous models.
“It is unnecessary to realign the VED bands on new sales of diesel cars,” he said.
“The current batch of Euro 6 diesels are much cleaner than Euros 1 to 5 already on our roads. This just adds to the demonisation of diesel.”