Should I buy a diesel car?

Should I buy a diesel car?

With the petrol/diesel ban heading our way in 2040, diesel cars will be a thing of the past. But could one be a good investment today? Here's all you need to know.

Diesel has become a dirty word in recent months, in part due to upcoming legislative changes that will see engines fuelled only from the black pump banned from our streets in 2040.

That, coupled to widespread backlash from politicians and environmentalists over diesel cars’ Nitrous Oxide (NOx) emissions, has led to a significant drop in diesel car sales in the UK, which were down 37 per cent in March 2018, compared to the same month the previous year.

With the threat of extra taxation and restricted emission zones hanging over them, buyers are cautious about investing in diesel cars right now – but could there still be a good reason to buy one? Here’s what you need to know.

Vauxhall EcoTec diesel engine

Why should I consider a diesel?

Despite the media and political outcry, there’s still a very good argument for choosing diesel if you’re a high mileage driver. After all, there are very few modern technologies that offer the same combination of usability and fuel economy. Even a plug-in hybrid will be less efficient than a modern diesel if driven over a long distance, while small capacity turbocharged petrols aren’t as efficient if driven hard.

What are the reasons not to?

The main reasons not to buy a diesel are the same as they always were – you need to pay more to buy one in the first place, and the purchase price is a false economy unless its offset by the fuel cost savings you’ll make over the mileage you cover. Generally speaking, the average diesel starts to pay for itself if you do over 15,000 miles a year.

Of course, this is very different for fleet drivers, many of whom cover much higher mileages.

Why are diesels suddenly ‘dirty’ when they were ‘clean’ a few years ago?

Nothing has changed in terms of what comes out of a diesel car, but politicians have moved their focus away from Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions to focus on NOx instead. And where diesel always fared much better than petrol on CO2, it emits higher levels of NOx and hydrocarbons, which have come under much greater political scrutiny in recent months. If you think it’s bad for cars, imagine how bad it is for the commercial vehicle industry.

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diesel engine

What about resale values?

Historically, diesel cars have always held their value better than petrol ones, but the scaremongering around diesel at the moment has had a real impact. If you’re buying new, this is of course a concern, though it’s likely that any impact on resale values will tail off once the hype dies down.

Also, there are several manufacturers who currently have a surplus of diesel cars in stock, as they order their stock based on forecasts submitted months previously. That means there are bargains to be had, both new and used.

Will I be burdened by future tax hikes?

There’s no predicting what might happen next where politicians are concerned, with talk about additional levies being applied to diesel car purchase tax, road tax and even on fuel, while there’s also the threat of additional congestion charges being applied.

However, these are being lobbied against by the car industry, which believes that efficient diesels are no worse for the environment than petrol vehicles.

Also, if you cover a high mileage, any small taxation penalty can still be offset by your fuel savings.

Are diesels likely to be banned in the future?

They’re unlikely to be banned from our roads, as to do so would be both punitive and impractical for so many motorists. What’s more likely to happen is simply a natural drop-off in conventional internal combustion engine cars as a whole, as we move towards the 2040 petrol/diesel ban.

The ban is over two decades away, which gives carmakers plenty of time to prepare. Plus, by the time it comes in, the vast majority of brand new cars bought today will have reached the end of their natural lives anyway.

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