Jaguar Land Rover’s UK managing director Jeremy Hicks has expressed big concerns over the continued demonisation of diesel and the effect it’s having on the industry’s ability to deal with the twin threats of global warming and local air pollution.
“We can’t let the battle be lost, the CO2 footprint of cars sold last year went up; is global warming not important to us any more?” he told Company Car Today. “The battle can’t be lost.”
Hicks described the anti-diesel sentiment as “not the answer to air problems in London”, and said car manufacturers and the industry need to get the message through to Government. “Is it right to penalise cars that will contribute the least to local air pollution?” he asked, referring to the latest company car tax and VED changes that apply only to new diesels.
“The Government has taken one bullet and aimed it at the cleanest diesels; the way to affect air quality in London is to take the oldest diesels off the streets.”
Instead, he pointed out, just as the latest Euro6 regulations have made large improvements to the NOx and local air pollution performance of diesels, with some manufacturers claiming their diesels put out no more than their petrol siblings, the Government has made moves to turn public opinion against the more efficient fuel that produces less CO2.
Hicks said awareness of the facts is a problem, claiming that knowledge is so low that “some people think that Euro1 is better than Euro6”, when the reverse is true. “If we were fighting against logic or facts then I wouldn’t be so perturbed but we have got facts that need to be told and showed, and that’s why it is worth fighting.”
Hicks claimed a “healthy level of interest” in the new I-Pace (pictured), the company’s first full electric vehicle that launches in the coming weeks. “For us it’s really exciting; the fact that we are one of the first traditionals to be in there,” he declared. “We lead the pack and from a reputational point of view it’s great for Jaguar, it helps contemporise Jaguar and give us relevance.”
“Confidence is growing in battery electric vehicles, but the car’s quality are reducing worries – the motor, the batteries and the level of technology,” he concluded. “Everything is right – the right car, right brand, right package, right residual values at the right time.”