Replying to suggestions that the Government is considering a surcharge or tax on the sale of new diesel vehicles:
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: "We might be just over 20 years from the Government's own deadline for ending the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles, but it seems intent on dissuading as many of us from opting for diesel as possible.
"We are concerned that those who drive long distances, business drivers especially, might consider sticking with their older diesels given the superior economy they offer. It would be a terrible misjudged ‘knee-jerk’ reaction which could backfire and have the unexpected effect of encouraging these owners of older diesels and fleets not to upgrade to newer, cleaner diesels which offer significant benefits in reduced emissions.
"This isn't what the Government, or any of us, want and is the opposite of what is needed from an air quality perspective. However, it would also be grossly unfair to penalise owners of current diesel vehicles.
"The irony is that the next generation of diesel engines which manufacturers are developing right now are likely to be as clean as their petrol equivalents - so while a new tax might be logical in the short term, this logic will likely not apply within a year or so.
"The possibility of a sudden rush to petrol engines also risks a new rise in CO2 emissions, precisely what previous governments tried to avoid by encouraging drivers into diesel vehicles."