Fleet News

SMMT launches new bid to make Government see green benefits of diesel

NEW moves to end the Government's 'unfair' discrimination against diesel as a credible alternative to petrol have been launched. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders says the UK Government's tax treatment is totally out of step with its treatment by other European governments.

Chief executive Christopher Macgowan claimed the chief reason for the recent decline in diesel sales was the Government's taxation policies imposed based on the incorrect assumption that diesel is a 'dirty' fuel.

Excise duty on diesel is now higher than that on petrol in the UK. In addition duty on diesel in the UK at 7.64 Euros per 10 litres is now almost double the duty in the next highest-rated country, France (3.92 Euros per 10 litres). A £10 Vehicle Excise Duty penalty on diesel cars is to be introduced from March 2001 and company car drivers will pay a 3% benefit-in-kind tax supplement on diesel cars under the new tax system from April 2002.

Mary Braim, policy adviser on transport benefits at the Inland Revenue, said: 'We are not convinced ultra-clean diesels yet exist. We need to come up with a definition for what a 'clean' diesel would be.'

Britain's number one diesel manufacturer, Peugeot, is at the forefront of the fight against the Government's diesel position. The company is striving to practically demonstrate the environmental and fuel-efficient benefits of modern diesel cars. The Peugeot 607 is fitted with a particulates filter and within two years, the technology will be fitted to all new Peugeot and sister company Citroen's diesel cars.

And Richard Dyson, manager of supply and distribution and Peugeot's diesel expert, said: 'Diesel vehicles fitted with a particulates filter should be treated with an advantage because the technology is far ahead of anything else on the road.'

He said no diesel cars fitted with so-called common rail diesel engine technology such as PSA's HDi powerplants should be penalised. Britain's best-selling diesel car, the Peugeot 406, emits 26% less carbon dioxide and is about 50% more fuel-efficient than its petrol equivalent.

'If the Government is to achieve its goals of reducing fuel consumption it must encourage the more widespread use of diesel,' added Dyson.

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