Business secretary Greg Clark is confident that diesel-powered cars have a future on UK roads, despite oilburners currently being out of favour
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UK Government: diesel cars remain important to meet emissions targets

Sales of new diesel engines have a future in the UK, a government minister has said, despite concerns that frugal oilburning powertrains will be banned post-2040.

“There is a place for diesel,” business secretary Greg Clark told the FT Future of the Car Summit 2018. “City centres are a flashpoint. Driving diesel a long distance is a different question.”

Government is currently working on a white paper dubbed ‘Road to Zero’, which will outline a policy framework for managing road transport emissions towards zero by 2035/40.

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Suggesting that diesels are not totally out of favour inside government, Clark singled out the latest diesel technology as having a role in reducing greenhouse gases.

“New generation diesel can make a big contribution to reducing emissions,” he said.

Leaks from the drafts of the Road to Zero paper have suggested draconian policies that could even ban the sale of new plug-in hybrids if they lack sufficient electric-only range to hit a possible legal target for at least 50-mile electric range by 2040.

“There will be more detail on diesel versus electric vehicles in our forthcoming publication,” Clark added.

The content of the white paper is understood to being fiercely contested by at least three departments – business, environment and transport.

Environment, under Michael Gove, can be expected to be resolutely anti-diesel, while transport has made anti-diesel comments. Chris Grayling, for example, even suggested car buyers should “think twice about buying a diesel”.

It now appears business is to come out in favour of diesel, subject to usage limits – for example diesel bans in high-pollution hotspots.

However Clark indicated that the white paper may well call time on older, less clean diesels, although he fell short of announcing a scrappage scheme.

“It would be wrong for people to hold on to an older diesel,” he said.

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