Buying a new car – diesel or petrol?

If you are thinking of buying a new car you may have been closely watching the recent media reports around air quality and diesel cars. You cannot have missed the VW scandal of implementing certain emission controls during the testing phase leading to emissions that were significantly higher in real-life conditions. Or the debate around air quality in cities, London experiencing especially high levels of particulates and nitrogen oxide levels partly as a result of diesel vehicles.

The BBC recently reported a drop in diesel vehicle sales with worse to come. The report predicts that diesel vehicles will make up just 15% of sales by 2025 compared to a high of 50%. So what do you need to consider if you are thinking of buying a new car? Is there still a place for diesel vehicles on our roads?

Air quality

It is now clear beyond doubt that the emissions from diesel vehicles are much more harmful than originally thought. This is particularly applicable in cities where the potential for dispersal of pollutants in the atmosphere – and therefore the dilution of large concentrations in urban areas – is reduced, meaning we breathe in the harmful chemicals much more and in greater concentrations. The pollutant levels of nitrogen dioxide and small particulate matter regularly breach the limit values set by government and the World Health Organisation, leaving people more vulnerable to asthma attacks or to developing cardiovascular conditions.

However, manufacturers have cleaned up their act and technology development has led to diesel engines being much cleaner than they used to be. They also emit much lower levels of carbon dioxide when compared to their petrol equivalents – another harmful pollutant that affects our health and one which is partly responsible for climate change. The reason for this is that diesel engines are actually more fuel efficient than petrol ones.

Taxes and proposed bans

The media storm following the VW scandal and deteriorating air quality have led to new levies on diesel cars that don’t meet the latest – and most stringent – emissions standards. This is believed to hit the newest diesel car models as well and is due to come into force in April this year. Bans of diesel vehicles entering city centres have also been mooted.

All these issues make consumers think twice before buying a diesel car. However, all these need to be taken into account while considering how you will be using your vehicle: are you going to be driving in cities more than rural areas? Will you be using your vehicle for longer or short journeys?

The choice is not just between diesel and petrol engines of course. Hybrid and electric cars should also be taken into consideration. While the latter may still be in an early stage of commercialisation, making them a little more expensive to buy, the tax breaks, exemptions from congestion and toxicity levy charging may make them a more viable option. Hybrid vehicles are much more established and competitively priced, making them an option that merits serious consideration.


If you would like some advice on the various types of vehicle and which one is right for you, our team of experts at Double Dee Autos can help. For a chat or to book in for an appointment if you would like your vehicle checked or repaired give us a call on 020 8460 3040 – we would be happy to help!