An investigation by Auto Express into 320 local authorities in England and Wales has revealed that on average more than 90% of council operated vehicles use diesels.

The problem for policymakers is that introducing regulations restricting diesel vehicle access, while running municipal fleets powered by diesel, are seen as hypocritical and undemocratic.

This is a significant issue in Bristol where the council fleet is 81.5% diesel, and where policymakers have asked the Government for permission to ban private diesel cars from entering the city.

The root of the issue is the perception that one type of technology (in this case diesel) is ‘bad’ and should be removed, even if the evidence does not support this.

The Dieselgate scandal has also reinforced this misleading position.

The evidence from the results of independent testing of both diesel and petrol technology reveals that fuel type is not a proxy for how vehicle emissions affect air quality.

The fundamental issue for local air quality is how the vehicle performs during actual on-road driving.

Results from vehicles tested and rated on the AIR Index show that there is parity between most clean diesel and petrol technology in terms of urban NOx emissions.

Our mission is to help reduce the negative impact of vehicle emissions in the short and long term, and we do this by providing vehicle ratings through the AIR Index.

We are technology neutral and believe that vehicle choice, whether by consumers or policy makers, is best informed by independent ratings.

The solution to the conundrum faced by policy makers with diesel fleets is to develop regulation based on the actual emissions from vehicles which can apply equally to the municipal fleet, private vehicles or public transport.

This approach is the most consistent, transparent and democratic because it replaces opinion and perception with scientific evidence to address the problem of air quality.

ULEZ London

Massimo Fedeli Co-founder of AIR says: “Banning diesel cars from an urban area is not the panacea many councils might think.

“Our own real-world tests have shown that the very latest diesels can play a major role in helping to improve air quality.

“For example, when we tested a 2018 Land Rover Discovery diesel, we found it emitted just 33 mg/km of NOx, well below the legal limit of 80 mg/km.

“And when it comes to vans – which cover more mileage than cars – we found the 2019 Volkswagen Crafter emitted 53 mg/km NOx, 72 mg less than its laboratory-based legal limit of 125 mg/km.

“But that’s not the case for all vehicles, which is where the problem lies.

“There is a huge variation between makes and models and although a car or van might conform to Euro 6 emissions standards, its actual emissions may vary enormously: for every ‘clean’ Volkswagen Crafter or Peugeot Partner, the vast majority of vehicles are way over the limit.

“For example, we’ve tested vehicles that can emit 19 times as much NOx as the legal limit.

“Many councils are seeking to follow London’s lead in basing ULEZ access upon Euro standards alone – but that is not an efficient or fair way to address the problem of air quality, since over-emitting newer Euro 6 cars and vans will be allowed in, yet older lower-emitting Euro 5 vehicles will attract penalty fines.

The only way councils can truly treat drivers and citizens fairly – and improve air quality in an urban area and make sure their own fleets are as clean as possible – is to use an independent source, such as the AIR Index.”

About AIR Index

AIR is a global not-for-profit organisation that empowers van and car buyers and policymakers with the ability to reduce vehicle emissions and improve air quality by providing an independent, trusted, on-road vehicle emissions ratings for vans and cars.

The AIR Index is an international, independent and standardised rating system that reveals accurately how much pollution a vehicle produces when it is used in towns and cities.

The results of the tests provide the basis to rate the vehicle according to the A-E, colour-coded scale.

The AIR Alliance provides clear, independent and trusted information to inform vehicle choice.

It wants to ensure that someone choosing their vehicle, a policymaker creating the rules for vehicle access to a city or a fleet manager writing the tender document does so with easy-to-use facts at hand to choose the cleanest cars that enable everyone to breathe more easily.

Find out more: www.airindex.com