He revealed diesel cars would incur a 3% benefit-in-kind tax penalty because they 'emit greater quantities than petrol cars of two local air pollutants - particulates and oxides of nitrogen'. However, he promised that 'provisions will be put in place so the diesel supplement is waived' for low emission clean diesels - which the Government says is the new generation of common rail diesel engines now rolling off production lines. Consideration would also be given 'to the case for granting a discount, expressed as a percentage of the car's price' if manufacturers can demonstrate that present common rail or high pressure direct injection diesels and forthcoming technology can make these engines 'as clean or cleaner than petrol cars'.
The Inland Revenue says it will make a decision on waiving the
tariff before April 2002. Fleet News is now calling on the Chancellor to honour this commitment combined with strong pressure from the UK's leading fleet diesel manufacturers - Peugeot, Ford, Vauxhall and Volkswagen. Tod Evans, managing director of Peugeot, Britain's top fleet diesel manufacturer, said: 'We're making diesel as clean as possible and are now arranging a demonstration of common rail and our particulate filter to prove it to ministers.' Robin Woolcock, Volkswagen Group managing director, said: 'It's incomprehensible that the Government should penalise a technology that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, cuts consumption of fossil fuel and lowers overall emissions.'
Nick Reilly, Vauxhall chairman and managing director, said: 'Most other countries in Europe encourage manufacturers and consumers to drive diesel by taxing them less. Why are we out of line with that thinking.' And John Rogers, Ford fleet marketing manager, said: 'Modern diesel engines already achieve very high standards for reduced CO2 emissions and penalising diesel presents obstacles to the motor industry in its efforts to further reduce overall CO2 levels.'
ACFO chairman Tony Leigh said: 'The Chancellor should honour his commitment not only to withdraw this outrageous penalty, but to incentivise the adoption of clean diesel cars by fleets.'