The motor industry must invest in educating used car buyers about emissions from diesel vehicles, the Vehicle Remarketing Association (VRA) has claimed.
The organisation, which represents the used-car trade, has suggested that consumers are confused about emissions from diesel and petrol vehicles, particularly newer vehicles which meet stricter emissions standards under the Euro 5 and Euro 6 requirements.
Diesel vehicles are known to emit lower levels of CO2 than petrol vehicles, thus helping to reduce the impact of transport on climate change.
However, diesel cars, in particular those built prior to 2009, also emit higher levels of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, which can worsen air quality and harm human health.
Glenn Sturley, chair of the VRA, said: “It is rapidly becoming obvious that there are a lot of misconceptions circulating among used car buyers about diesel, often prompted by some poorly researched journalism in the national press.
“We are in a situation where some consumers are starting to identify diesel as undesirable from an air quality and emissions point of view, and starting to avoid them. Evidence shows that most are switching to petrol, which has its own emissions issues.
“As anyone working in the industry knows, this is a trend that makes little sense. Newer diesels are some of the cleanest cars available, especially in real world terms, and stigmatising them could actually hamper general efforts to improve air quality.”
Mr Sturley claimed that a ‘concerted effort’ is needed to explain to buyers the improvements that had been made in diesels over recent years.
He added: “Roughly, the diesel car parc can be divided into Euro 3 and Euro 4, which no longer meet the kinds of emissions standards that are considered acceptable, and Euro 5 and Euro 6, which are some of the cleanest cars available in terms of CO2, NOx and particulates.
“Effectively, this means that the market divides into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ diesels and we believe that much more could and should be done to educate consumers on the difference between the two. This responsibility falls to everyone from organisations like the VRA to manufacturers to dealers and others.
“As a body, it strikes us that a good first step would be to fight for a better standard of coverage in the mainstream media. Some of the stories that have been published about diesel and air quality have been misleading, to say the least.”