Fall in new cars licensed but a rise in more affordable diesel cars


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AA compares diesel to petrol cars

With purse-strings becoming ever tighter, there are less of us buying new cars. This is plain to see in the latest CSO figures, which show that there was a decrease of 39.9% in new private cars licensed in June 2013, compared to June 2012. New cars have shown a serious decline over the last few years. In fact, there were 64.4% less cars licensed this year than there were in 2011.

For those who are buying new cars, there seems to be a trend towards diesel rather than petrol powered engines. The CSO also found that the number of new private petrol cars licensed in June 2013 is far less than diesel, with the statistics showing 26.5% and 72.7% respectively. Arwen Foley spokesperson for the AA isn’t surprised with the findings “Diesel fuelled cars are becoming more popular. Diesel is cheaper and will likely remain so for the next couple of years. Motor taxation based on CO2 emissions was introduced in July 2008 so diesel cars which produce less CO2 are cheaper.”

Diesel cars are generally more expensive to buy and to service than petrol cars. However, the long-term savings in fuel costs means that diesel-fuelled cars work out a great deal cheaper. The AA took a popular car model and conducted a study to see how much could be saved when buying a diesel instead of a petrol car. This particular diesel car needed 4.6 litres to do 100km but the petrol version needed 6.5 litres. This is almost a third less fuel-efficient. As a result it cost under €700 to do 10,000km in the diesel but just over €1,000 to do the same distance in the petrol powered car. The diesel powered car cost €27,485 and the petrol car cost €27,045 (a difference of €440) and it was discovered that after 13,000km, the saving in fuel exceeds the premium paid for the diesel model.

It’s worth noting that diesel cars aren’t suited to shorter runs. Diesel particulate filters (DPF) which are used to remove the soot from the exhaust gas of a diesel engine need longer journeys to function properly so a weekly 30 minute drive on a motorway/national road should be planned to burn off the soot trapped in the filter. Having said that, a diesel car will always suit higher mileage drivers better.

Getting used to owning and maintaining a diesel car is relatively easy but motorists are warned to make sure they put the correct fuel into their car at the service station. “Irish motorists aren’t used to diesel operated cars, only a few years ago over 90% of all Irish cars were petrol” says Arwen. “It’s very easy to put petrol into a diesel engine. The AA Rescue team deal with about 140,000 breakdowns every year and in the first 6 months of this year we dealt with almost 450 cases where a motorist put petrol into their diesel engine.”

Filling up with the wrong fuel can be a costly mistake. In some instances serious engine damage can be done and the unlucky few who do this can expect to pay as much as €1,500 in repairs. Thankfully though, the AA has specialist equipment to deal with this situation.