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How diesel is driving the August media agenda

Diesel has been driving the automotive news agenda all summer but the first ten days in August has just seen things go up a gear.

Traditionally a quiet news period, August 2017 has turned up the noise with a series of diesel announcements to fire the interest of motorists everywhere in what has been a sensational start to the month.

The UK Government set the tone at the end of July when it announced plans to ban the production of diesel and petrol cars by 2040.

This revved up the automotive world going into August and the Society of Motor Manufacturers (SMMT) and Traders led the way in the first few days of the moth as they announced a 9.3% decrease in new car registrations during July – with diesel sales coming off worst with a whopping 20.1% fall in new registrations.

By contrast the alternative fuel car registrations rose by 64.9%, representing a 31.4% increase for the year.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive said: “While it’s encouraging to see record achievements for alternatively fuelled vehicles, consumers considering other fuel types will have undoubtedly been affected by the uncertainty surrounding the government’s clean air plans.

“It is important to remember that there are no plans to charge drivers using the latest Euro 6 models and no proposed bans for conventional petrol and diesel vehicles for some 23 years.

“The lower demand in recent months will inevitably mean competition from manufacturers will intensify and it will be a good opportunity for consumers to get a great deal on their next car, with many exciting new models launched in the coming months.”

Around the same time the latest SMMT diesel registrations figures left diesel owners reeling, they were given some hope for the future from the unlikeliest of announcements when the Government revealed it was investigating plans to swap diesel for ‘paraffinic fuels, which include vegetable oil and other biofuels.

Days later those thinking of dumping their diesel cars were given a boost when BMW UK announced its Lower Emissions Allowance, a trade-in scheme offering drivers of Euro 4 and older diesels a £2,000 discount when they trade in and upgrade to a new car.

BMW UK is offering customers a £2,000 subsidy to upgrade to a new Euro-6 compliant vehicle, and all new BMW and MINI cars with emissions under 130g/km will be available with the discount until the end of the year.

Harald Krüger, BMW’s Board Chairman, said: “For almost two years now, diesel technology which is cutting-edge, highly efficient and popular with customers has been deliberately and publicly discredited.

This has caused tremendous uncertainty among millions of drivers and it’s not going to get us anywhere”.

Not to be outdone by its German rival, Volkswagen Group announced its own diesel trade in scheme to begin in Germany, alongside plans for a similar scheme in the UK, to be revealed “shortly”.

For the German scheme, owners of diesel cars through Euro 1 to 4 emission standards will be offered trade-in bonuses for new cars. The trade-in offer does not exclusively relate to VW Groups cars as owners of any brand of vehicle will qualify for the trade-in incentive.

Discounts of up to €10,000 (£9,022) on a new Volkswagen Group car are on the table for German owners who want to scrap their old vehicles, confirmed by both Audi and Volkswagen’s plans and a similar type of scheme is set to be unveiled for the UK in coming weeks.

On the same day as the Volkswagen announcement, Auto Trader released data showing a 680% spike in searches for electric cars on the day the Government announced its ban on petrol and diesel cars.

It was revealed a slow down in the value of diesel cars. In July 2017, the average price of a used car was £11,780, 4.5 percent higher than it was for the same month in 2016.

Despite this average market increase, diesel is the only fuel type where month-on-month price increases are slowing. The average year-on-year price increase for diesel used cars was just 1 percent in July 2017, compared to a year-on-year price increase of 7.7 percent for petrol vehicles.

So it’s been quite a start to the month for diesel car owners, a see-sawing sequence of sensational statements and announcements to dizzy the diesel owner more than ever before.

There is no sign of things slowing down with further updates on Volkswagen’s UK trade-in scheme to come and the Government’s proposed scrappage scheme back under consultation this Autumn, the diesel news juggernaut looks set to roll on for many more months.

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