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Euro 6, Adblue, CO2 – modern diesels explained

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) thinks consumers are dangerously ill-informed about modern diesel technology.

In a YouGov poll, 54 per cent of responders said they thought cars and vans were the biggest cause of air pollution in the UK – in fact, pollution from cars pales into insignificance compared to that from power stations.

Diesel has been given a hard ride by policy-makers, too. Some local councils are choosing to levy an additional charge on residents who want to park their diesel car on the street – despite 72 per cent of motorists opposing this move. The SMMT, motor manufacturers and we at carwow think this is a bad move.

So what technologies make diesels efficient and why do we think diesels shouldn’t be penalised by the government?

Euro emissions standards

Car emissions are measured against a standardised scale set by the European Commission. The standards drive down pollutants produced by cars by periodically tightening regulations in stages. Each stage is expressed as a number with Euro 6 standard being the current benchmark. Some car brands are now offering scrappage schemes that offer extra savings on new cars when you trade in a car rated at Euro 4 or older.

From September 1 2015 all cars sold in the UK must conform to Euro 6 guidelines but 87 per cent of those surveyed by YouGov said they didn’t know what this meant. Euro 6 defines the maximum amount of pollutants a car can produce. The drive to reduce these has resulted in cars that are 29 per cent more efficient than they were in 2000 – two years ahead of target.

For diesels in particular, Euro 6 regulations have reduced soot emissions by an unprecedented 99 per cent. Modern diesels can produce up to 20 per cent less CO2 than equivalent petrol cars so, as Graeme Grieve, CEO of BMW UK says, diesel “has a vital role to play in helping arrest climate change”. For comparison, it would take 42 million Euro 6 diesel cars to produce the same emissions as a single coal-fired power station.

Adblue explained

Manufacturers have gone to extreme lengths to reduce diesel pollutants – and an increasingly common method is the use of Adblue exhaust after-treatment fluid. Adblue is a mixture of distilled water and urea – the same stuff you’ll find in wee – and, when injected into the exhaust gasses, it can help to reduce harmful nitrous oxides (NOx). Work in this area has reduced NOx emissions by 81 per cent since 1990, and you’ll increasingly find Adblue tanks on modern diesel cars.

Will the worries about diesel efficiency stop people buying cars that run on the stuff?

Chief Executive of the SMMT, Mike Hawes, said: “The allegations against diesel cars made in recent months threaten to misguide policy making and undermine public confidence in diesel. It’s time to set the record straight”. We at carwow agree the proposed surcharges for diesel cars are completely unfit for purpose and we encourage car buyers to keep choosing the models best suited to their lifestyles – be they petrol, diesel or otherwise.

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