Autumn Budget: diesel tax due for British motorists

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Diesel cars

Diesel cars are expected to be hit with higher taxes

The chancellor’s Autumn Budget will be revealed tomorrow with changes for diesel cars on the agenda

Tomorrow’s Autumn Budget looks set to introduce a raised tax on diesel cars as the government attempts to reduce the number of new models being purchased.

Chancellor Philip Hammond’s penalty on black pump vehicles will be rolled out as part of aggressive government plans to fight air pollution.

Cutting the emission of nitrogen oxide and particulates is a key focus due to their association with respiratory illnesses.

The diesel tax hike is expected to come in the form of increased road tax for diesels, but could also be introduced with an increased tax on purchase prices. Alternatively, there could be a tax rise applied to diesel fuel itself.

Uncertainty surrounding the impending budget has already had an impact on diesel registrations in Britain, with diesel sales dropping by 29.9% in October. Experts claim that motorists have held off on buying new models until the budget’s true impact is revealed. There are currently around 37 million diesel vehicles on Britain’s roads.

Despite growing pressure on diesel, particularly following the Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal, independent research carried out by Autocar sister title What Car? has shown that while most petrol vehicles do produce less NOx and particulates than diesel equivalents, some of the market’s newest diesels can actually be cleaner than their petrol alternatives.

What Car? tests showed that the new BMW 520d emits just 0.035g of NOx per kilometre, identical to the amount produced by the Volkswagen Passat GTE, a hybrid-petrol model. The tests showed that CO2 output for the 520d is 0.038g/km, while the Passat emits 0.174g/km – nearly five times the amount.

Experts therefore associate the UK’s growing automotive air pollution problem with older diesel vehicles, rather than the latest Euro 6 models. Older diesels can lack the particulate filters of new cars and thus produce significantly higher levels of NOx and particulates.

While the UK government has focused its efforts for air pollution on diesel vehicles, some local authorities have chosen to tackle high-polluting vehicles of any fuel type. London last month introduced the T-charge, which charges drivers of higher-polluting vehicles £10 to pass through certain zones, while Oxford City Council wants to go a step further with plans to ban petrol and diesel cars from its inner city streets from 2020.

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