The Demonization of Diesel

The Demonization of Diesel Cars June 2018

12 June 2018

THE demonization of diesel vehicles is having the opposite effect of helping to save the planet, and is actually driving up ozone-degrading emissions.

This is because there is a massive switch away from diesels, which do not emit large quantities of carbon dioxide, in favour of petrol-powered vehicles, which do.

Motorists are being persuaded to make the move away from oil-burning engines because they produce nitrogen oxides instead, which are believed to be carcinogenic, or cancer causing.

However, whilst this is a scientifically-proven fact, those dangerous emissions are mainly exhausted into the air from older diesels, especially high-mileage buses, lorries and taxis.

New diesel vehicles are fitted with highly-efficient filters that trap the particulates, which together with the lower CO2 emissions, make them cleaner than petrol vehicles in the opinion of many industry experts.

Another benefit is that diesel-powered vehicles can typically travel twice as far as their petrol equivalents on every tank, which means that less fuel is actually used.

Unfortunately for the diesel engine, the damage has now been done, in the short term at least, with sales expected to be down by about a third this year.

The situation has not been helped by the impending imposition of higher taxes and several major European cities preparing to ban diesel vehicles completely.

This is spectacularly bad timing for motor manufacturers that have invested billions into the latest generation of diesel-powered vehicles to showcase what they consider to be the huge advantages over petrol units, some of which are diesel hybrids.

British car company Trident says it is on the cusp of unleashing its Iceni model, which will be the world’s fastest and most fuel-efficient diesel sports car.

Capable of running on mineral diesel or biodiesel, the Trident Iceni uses a 6.6-litre V8 turbodiesel engine to generate up to 660bhp of power and an impressive 1050lb/ft of torque to endow it with F1-style acceleration to 60mph in a mere 2.9 seconds.

There is a top speed in excess of 190mph yet with average economy of 50mpg and a range of more than 1500 miles it can easily travel from Newcastle to Nice on a single tank.

Chinese company Techrules has developed a diesel-turbine electric supercar called the Ren with a power output of a remarkable 1,287bhp and a power-to-weight ratio higher than that of a Bugatti Chiron.

This endows the lightweight supercar with acceleration to 60mph in a mere three seconds, and a top speed in excess of 200mph.

The 80-litre diesel fuel tank would enable the vehicle to travel from Ponteland to Paris with half a tank to spare.

Such diesel-powered supercars may not be a common sight but, like successive diesel-powered Le Mans winners, they illustrate the remarkable combination of power and economy that can be achieved, paradoxically with the benefit of low emissions.

Many of the most popular affordable supercars from Porsche, Maserati, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Bentley and a host of others are oil-burners.

They include models such as the £140,000 Bentley Bentayga, not to mention the Range Rover that it upstages, with a 4.0-litre diesel engine generating 435bhp of power and a whopping 900Nm of torque.

This prodigious combination endows the gargantuan 4x4 SUV with acceleration to 60mph in just over four and a half seconds, with a top speed of 170mph.

Despite weighing a whopping three and a quarter tonnes, the eight cylinder diesel engine averages 36mpg in comparison to just 22mpg for the 6.0-litre 12-cylinder petrol-powered version, with a CO2 rating of 210g/km against 290g/km.

Hardly environmentally-friendly in either guise, but much more so in the case of the diesel.

There are a host of other equally-impressive sports-orientated diesels, such as the £58,500 Maserati Ghibli that generates 660Nm of pulling power for an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph and acceleration to 60mph in just over six seconds, with economy nudging 50mpg.

Audi, which has won Le Mans 11 times, has transferred its successful E-Tron diesel hybrid combination to its hugely popular Q7 SUV range to achieve the best of both worlds.

Mating a V6 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine to an advanced battery pack results in acceleration to 60mph in six seconds, with a top speed of 145mph and a CO2 rating of just 48g/km for the £67,560 Q7 E-Tron.

This is a CO2 rating of less than half that of a one-litre three-cylinder petrol-powered Nissan Micra, with the Q7 boasting an official economy figure of 155mpg and the added ability to travel completely emissions-free for 35 miles using battery power alone.

Nonetheless, the concept of oil-burning engines is suddenly out of favour, regardless of the realities of their comparative cleanliness, whether as mineral diesel, bio-mass or diesel/electric hybrid.

Behind the scenes several recently-perfected diesel supercars are being mothballed, whilst Toyota has become the first motor manufacturer to announce a ban on new diesel sales completely by the end of the year.

The demonization of diesels is proving devastating, possibly for all the wrong reasons, and whilst some pundits believe they will make a comeback with a vengeance, it could be some time before their wheel of fortune begins to turn again.