April 29, 2017

Diesel engines – the facts

petrol vans fuel efficiency

Last year, over 375,000 new vans were registered in the UK. The vast majority of these new vans will be powered by diesel engines. But why are diesel engines the favoured choice of power for light commercial vehicles?

Here are 10 facts that highlight the vital role diesel engines have in improving air quality in busy urban areas, and in addressing climate change.

Record sales

As well as the record number of new van registrations in 2016, 1.3million new diesel cars were also registered in the UK. The trend is continuing this year, with in excess of 250,000 diesel cars and vans sold last month.

Reduced emissions

Crucial to reducing CO2 emissions, diesel helps to tackle climate change. On average, diesel engines emit 20% less CO2 than their petrol counterparts. In the last 15 years, diesel engines have saved 3.5million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Better efficiency

Diesel is valued for its high performance and low fuel consumption. On average, diesel engines consume 20% less fuel than like-for-like petrol units, making them perfectly suited to drivers who cover a lot of miles.

Driving the economy

More than 99% of the 4.4million commercial vehicles in the UK use diesel engines. They transport people, goods and provide emergency services and cover over 61 billion miles every year.

Eliminating particulates

Modern diesel technology has virtually eradicated emissions of particulate matter as 99% of these soot particulates captured by the special filters that have been fitted to all new diesel cars since 2011. Around half of diesel-powered vehicles on the road feature a diesel particulate filter (DPF).

Emissions standards

Introduced last year, the latest Euro 6 emissions standard has contributed to the cleanest vehicles in history. As well as the aforementioned filters, vans that are compliant with Euro 6 legislation use advanced technology that converts most of the Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) produced by the engine into harmless nitrogen and water before it even reaches the exhaust.

Euro 6 technology

It works. Recent real world tests using a popular London bus route revealed a 95% drop in NOx emissions compared with the previous Euro 5 standard. What’s more, if every older bus still in use in the capital was replaced with a new Euro 6 version, London’s NOx emissions would fall by 7.5%.

Financial benefits

By driving a Euro 6-compliant van, you’ll avoid having to pay any additional charges incurred by older vehicles driving in London’s new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) – which comes into force in 2019. If you travel through the area frequently then a Euro 6 van will be vital once the new rules come into effect.

It’s NOT the main culprit

Despite what you may have read recently, diesel engines are not the main source of urban NOx emissions. In London, the biggest contributor is gas heating in homes and offices, which is responsible for 16 percent. Road transport as a whole is responsible for around half of London’s NOx – although diesel engines account for just 11% of this.

New emissions standards

This September – just a year after Euro 6 rules came into force – a new official EU-wide emissions testing system will be used. For the first time, on-road testing will be conducted for a more accurate reflection of real-world driving. This will be the world’s most stringent-ever emissions standard.

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