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Supporting EVs not scrappage would slash NOx more effectively, says RAC Foundation

The analysis by the RAC Foundation finds that a scrappage scheme aimed at removing the dirtiest diesel cars from the roads would “have to be on a huge scale to have any significant effect”.

The Foundation’s report says that approximately 1.9 million diesel cars fall into the oldest, most polluting Euro standard categories: 1, 2 and 3. They account for some 17% of all diesel cars on the road and are responsible for 15% of total NOx emissions from diesel cars.

If a scrappage scheme was run along the same lines as that run in 2009/10, this would take 400,000 of the oldest diesel cars off the road at a cost of some £800m, split between the Government and vehicle manufacturers. Yet, replacing every one of these cars with a new zero-emission electric vehicle would only slash the annual NOx emissions by 5.5%, based on NOx emissions at the relevant Euro standard limit, or 3.2% when NOx emissions are considered to be at estimated real-world levels

This drops to 2,000 tonnes per annum (1.3% of the total) if the scrapped cars were replaced with the latest Euro 6 diesel models and driven the same distance as those scrapped.

However there could be an annual increase of about 300 tonnes if the replacement Euro 6 diesels were driven as much as the other Euro 6 diesels being sold, with the mileages of all other vehicles remaining the same.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said the money could be better spent on infrastructure to support electric cars: “There needs to be a big drive to get more people, and fleet buyers, to commit to ultra-green motoring and that means government subsidies must remain in place to close the price gap that still exists between vehicles powered by alternative fuels and those driven by fossil fuels.

“Already some manufacturers have warned that the still fragile electric car market could be killed off if subsidies are withdrawn too hastily. As the government has itself recognised in its plan for clean air zones, the most pressing issue is what to do about commercial vehicles. A major proportion of the emissions of NOx from road transport come from heavy duty vehicles such as lorries buses and taxis.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.