Surge in diesel cars unlikely to last

It is not just petrol-electric hybrid cars that have become popular. Diesel cars have also increased in numbers by more than 80 per cent over the past two years.

In January, there were 10,888 diesel cars on the roads, up from 5,976 two years ago. The figure excludes diesel-powered taxis, whose numbers dropped from 24,244 in 2015 to 23,410 in January.

However, the growth is unlikely to continue. Last month, several measures aimed at reducing diesel usage, because of the impact of diesel emissions on health and the environment, were announced. One such measure, a volume-based diesel tax priced at 10 cents per litre, was introduced last month.

Also, announced was a new Vehicular Emissions Scheme (VES), which replaces the current Carbon Emissions-based Vehicle Scheme, and is expected to affect diesel vehicles. Besides carbon dioxide, the VES targets four other pollutants.

Though diesel cars produce less carbon dioxide compared with petrol ones, they produce more of other pollutants such as nitrogen oxide and fine particulate matter.

Asian Clean Fuels Association director Clarence Woo noted that the World Health Organisation had recognised both diesel emissions and particulate matter as carcinogens and four cities were already moving to ban diesel vehicles by 2025.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2017, with the headline 'Surge in diesel cars unlikely to last'. Print Edition | Subscribe