New Diesel Cars Are No Cleaner Than New Gas-Powered Cars, Report Says

‘It’s a myth that diesel helps protect the climate,’ according to one German parliament member.

byEric Brandt| UPDATED Sep 21, 2017 3:20 PM
New Diesel Cars Are No Cleaner Than New Gas-Powered Cars, Report Says

Diesel cannot catch a break. Reuters reports that according to the German Transport Ministry, new diesel cars do not produce less harmful carbon dioxide than gas-powered cars. 

The Transport Ministry’s data show that, in 2016, diesel cars emitted an average of 128 grams of CO2 per kilometer. That's only one gram less than the same metric for petrol vehicles making the pollution numbers almost identical.

Part of the reason diesel cars can’t get any significant advantage over gas cars is the difference in the sizes of vehicles. Diesel vehicles tend to be bigger and heavier than petrol cars, making the supposed environmental advantage of diesel a wash.

German parliament member Stephan Kuehn of Alliance 90/The Greens, a center-left German political party with environmental issues among its main concerns, has some strong words for diesel proponents. 

“It’s a myth that diesel helps protect the climate,” he said. “Diesel motors squander the theoretical advantages they could bring for the environment by often being built into heavy, high-powered cars.”

So it’s not necessarily the diesel engines themselves that are an issue, but rather, the cars these engines are powering. Perhaps smaller diesel engines in lighter, more compact vehicles would help diesel see more of an environmental edge over gas than the almost non-existent advantage it has now.

Unfortunately, it would be hard for automakers to justify investment in revolutionizing the diesel while seemingly everyone in Europe is trying to ban diesel.