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Government proposals to tackle dirty air have been welcomed by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The plans aim to improve traffic flow and congestion as well as increase uptake in electric and hybrid vehicles.

One of the proposals in the clean air strategy documents has been termed the “targeted car scrappage scheme”, which could take 15,000 diesel and older petrol cars off the road. Under this scheme, Euro 1-5 diesel cars and Euro 1-3 petrol cars could be replaced with electric vehicles, using grants of up to £8,000.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “SMMT welcomes the publication of the government’s proposals for improving air quality across the UK, which clearly states that the new Euro 6 diesels, which have been on sale for the past two years, will not face any penalty charges anywhere in the UK.”

 

Will dealers invest in AFVs?

It has been suggested the scrappage scheme could be introduced within two years. However, the proposals, which are currently under consultation, have received backlash from green groups seeking faster action on cleaner air.

Despite recent negativity towards diesel vehicles, 78% of UK motor dealers have said they will not make snap investments in alternative fuel or electric vehicles, even though consumers are torn on the issue. The survey, conducted by automotive data experts Cap HPI, found that 51% of consumers are questioning their purchasing decisions because of environmental and health issues surrounding diesel.

Only 18% of dealers said they would look into investing in alternative fuel or electric vehicles, despite 84% saying they are fully aware and knowledgeable about the fuel debate. However, negative publicity may already be affecting diesel sales, which fell more than 27% in April 2017.

 

Read our blog – Vehicle sales drop 20% ahead of VED increases – for further information.

 

How will scrappage scheme affect sales?

The last car scrappage scheme ended in March 2010, triggering the sale of 396,000 new cars, reinvigorating a struggling sector following global recession. Then, Government’s scrappage incentive was £2,000 a car, helping to put a halt to plummeting sales.

In 2017, however, vehicle sales have hit record highs in the first four months of the year, rising 1.1% on last year. Incentives to entice motorists to swap their ageing cars for new, lower-emissions vehicles could push sales even higher. Other proposals under the draft air quality plan include retrofitting buses, lorries and black cabs as well as clean air zones.

Read the Government proposal – Improving air quality in the UK: tackling nitrogen dioxide in our towns and cities – for further information.