With the Supreme Court banning the registration of new diesel vehicles over 2000cc in Delhi for a period of three months (1st January to 31st March 2016), the cat has been set squarely among the pigeons as far as automotive manufacturers are concerned. The ban will adversely affect companies such as Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, for whom Delhi is a huge market and whose diesel models constitute the large majority of their sales, even though some of their engines are below 2000cc in capacity. Mass-market manufacturers like Maruti-Suzuki, Hyundai, Honda, Ford and so on will be less affected, as diesel contributes roughly 30 per cent to their sales, and almost all these models have engines below 2000cc. To cut a long story short, even though a lot of these measures are knee-jerk in nature, diesel cars do cause more pollution than petrol cars, and here’s five reasons why you should stick to the latter.<
1. Even though diesel engines are more fuel efficient and produce more torque than petrol ones, their long-term fuel efficiency is offset by the fact that it takes more crude oil to produce a litre of diesel than a litre of petrol; thus the production of diesel itself is less energy efficient.
2. Modern diesel cars are far cleaner than the smoke-belching dinosaurs of yore, but they’re still not as clean as petrol and hybrid engines. Diesels emit almost as much carbon dioxide as petrols, and the real killers are the microscopic particulates and NOx (another type of pollutant) that they emit – particulate matter from modern petrol engines is almost negligible, in comparison.
3. Diesel technology has advanced to a level where particulate matter and NOx levels can be reduced to a large degree, but these filters need to be meticulously cleaned and serviced for them to to be effective – and most owners are not regular with maintenance. There’s also the small matter of a company like Volkswagen, once considered the paragon of Teutonic reliability, actively defrauding the public with its ‘cheat’ software in some of its best-selling diesel cars – this was designed to pass tough emissions tests and then turn itself off later. If VW did it…
4. People buying diesel cars do so largely because they want better fuel efficiency, but not many realise that modern petrol engines have become nearly as efficient as diesels. Petrol engines are also quieter, less noisy and more refined than diesels, and petrol cars are in general more fun to drive – not to mention almost universally cheaper to buy.
5. The price difference between petrol and diesel in India exists purely because the government subsidises diesel, and even with this factor in mind, petrol is not that much more expensive. Given that it’s also better for the environment, buying a petrol car should be a no-brainer.