New Years’s Resolution 2011

Tuesday 11th January, 2011
Well, it's actually the 11th January 2011, but now I can actually start my planned New Year's Resolution. But why the delay?

The reason is because we expected my wife's new car to be delivered before Christmas but it was a little later than expected as we did a little deal with the lease company to register the car in 2011, which improves the residual value of the car a little, to save us a bit of money. So I've had to drive her old car to work today, where we will exchange the vehicle. But what has all this got to do with my resolution?

The answer is because the old car has a diesel engine and my resolution is to never drive another passenger car powered by a diesel engine!

You could say I'm effectively giving up smoking, and getting fit for the New Year, as our new car won't have the same level of horrible soot and NOx emissions coming out of the tailpipe.

It's time to practice what I preach. I complain all the time that diesels are stinky, noisy and polluting but, until today, we have had one on the driveway. The only reason for this is that the 4WD car we selected (rather useful in the snow) was only available with a diesel engine and my wife was quite set on that model. This time I've made a concerted effort and we're still getting a 4WD, but this time with a considerably cleaner petrol engine.

Once upon a time, the only people who really drove diesel engined cars were taxi drivers and van/truck drivers who had a fuel card that allowed them to fill their family car with diesel for free. But times have changed considerably. We were all led to believe that diesels have become quieter, cleaner and nicer to drive. In reality it's fairly true. Most diesels now have some kind of catalytic converter and/or a particulate filter which reduces emissions. Most have a little bolt on turbo, which gives the engine a bit of much needed power to get it away from the traffic lights some time today. Some are even a bit quieter than a London Taxi...but ultimately, they still stink.

During the recent Arctic conditions, I was scraping the snow and ice off both of our cars on the driveway - the diesel and a petrol hybrid. The crap coming out of her exhaust was enough to make me gag, simply horrible. It doesn't matter how much technology they put in the tailpipe, it doesn't work when the engine is cold, and a tiny 1.4D takes forever to heat up. Not only does this increase pollution considerably on short journeys, it also means the car takes ages to defrost and is still cold when you get inside. On top of that, your neighbours have the pleasure of listening to a "London taxi" idling on your driveway as you run around with the scraper.

But the diesel nastiness doesn't just end there, have you ever tried to fill one up? What is it with diesel drivers that they always manage to get the pump nozzle, handle and trigger covered in the stuff? You soon learn why most petrol stations provide disposable gloves, it's grim and if you do get it on your hands, they will smell for hours; even after you've washed them over and over.

The fact is, that many people jumped on the diesel bandwagon because they were more economical (in terms of mpg) and looked to be cheaper at the pump. Now the times have changed a little and the pump price has shot up, due to demand, and diesel cars cost so much more to buy new that you often don't see any return on that investment unless you do an above average number of miles per year. A diesel MPV for a school run mum who does 4,000 miles a year just doesn't make any sense at all. It may save you £30 in fuel on that long run to visit family at Christmas, but is it worth paying hundreds, even thousands of pounds more for that saving?

Congestion charging rules have changed in 2011, allowing some sub 100g/km CO2 diesels to enter the London Congestion Charging Zone for free. This is quite a contradiction really as, if I understand correctly, the whole purpose of the London CC was to reduce pollution. Sure, getting people to change their stinky old diesel for a newer one will help, but not as much as if they changed it for a petrol car. In pure pollution terms, we'd actually be better off if all the diesel car drivers switched to petrol than if all the petrol car drives switched to trendy electric cars - yet taxation is driving more and more people into stinky polluting diesels.

That's it. I won't be driving another diesel engined car. You may come with fancy names like eco-drive or have Blue in there somewhere. Clever marketing stuff as the name somehow manages to imply, but doesn't state, that these cars are environmentally friendly. They're blue, not green - blue is the colour an asthmatic goes when they're choking on localised pollution. Notice eco-drive, not enviro-drive. These cars emit considerably more harmful emissions than their petrol equivalents. So, bye bye Diesel, I'm done with you.

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