Will Australia ban diesel cars?


Will our fine regulators here in Shitsville follow in the knee-jerking footsteps of the Eurostanis and ban diesels in our so-called cities? Let's find out if that might work


I get this question all the time, perversely. Latest recurring variation on the theme from Allan M:

“As you are no doubt aware, Europe is going to ban diesel cars. There are already target dates. I have a 2016 Tucson Highlander diesel. Do you think I should trade-in shortly so that I will not lose greatly should Australia decide to follow suit? When I bought the Tucson diesel my understanding was that diesel car engines were no longer significantly more dangerous environmentally than petrol. I think the VW revelations changed things.” - Allan M

I also get asked regularly if it’s safe to buy a diesel today, for the same reason. Especially as many SUVs in particular offer the diesel powertrain as the premium option, with better performance in the real-world, and often connected to a superior driveline.

So, this is a real concern at some level in the market, and I’d suggest that it’s a non-issue. Banning diesel would be practically impossible here in ‘Straya. Politically impossible and logistically very difficult.


There’s no suggestion that this idea is being tabled, or even covertly discussed, in the corridors of power.

In the political domain, Shitsville’s revolving-door policy on Prime Mincers holds one thing absolutely sacred: to run the country you need to be a science-denying happy-clapping religious Muppet, hell-bent on appeasing Dickensian turds like the coal industry.

If you’re the Prime Mincer of this great nation you need to be able to use words like ‘clean coal’ with a straight face. You therefore need a PhD in Scientific Illiteracy.

You can’t acknowledge the existence of anthropogenic climate change. Gotta keep making electricity from coal, mate.

Gotta keep exporting sufficient coal to double the carbon footprint of the nation, effectively. Screw the planet, we’ve got the balance of trade to worry about. Gotta keep sidestepping the imperative to have air quality standards for our cities. You wouldn’t understand.

There is zero chance of banning diesel in Australia - especially as the most polluting diesels on our roads are old trucks, and no sane Jesus-bothering nutbag PM would take on the road transport lobby.

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The other problem with banning diesels is purely logistic. It would be a procedural nightmare, and of course, the car industry would go to war with you instantly if you tabled this as a serious proposal.

According to the 2018 Shitsville Motor Vehicle Census >> the number of diesel passenger vehicles on our roads has grown by 70 per cent since 2013 - it’s a huge bump.

Also dead interesting: The national Survey of Motor Vehicle Use >>

There are almost 1.8 million diesel passenger vehicles and two million more diesel light commercials on the road.

Having trouble choosing between petrol and diesel? Check out this report >>

That’s almost 30 per cent of the total number of vehicles registered. Where would they go, suddenly? Who would compensate the owners if they were banned? The environmental impact alone of sidelining those vehicles and replacing them would be immensely negative.

More importantly in the political dimension, those four million(ish) owners of a light diesel vehicle? They’re probably going to be supremely pissed off - a cardinal sin for a politician, obsessed as most ugly people are, with popularity.

Geography is a factor, too. See, in Europe, they’ll just drive the outlawed diesels east and sell them in some discount car emporium in Dogshittistan. Can’t really do that here. (Girt by sea, problematically.)

We could dump them in the Franklin River I suppose. Or build a bridge to the sheep shaggers. Sorry: that’s insensitive. The Merino molesters.

That could work.

Is diesel really dirty?

Then there’s the issue of dirty diesel: Putting Volkswagen arseholes to one side, diesel’s not actually dirty. In a modern Euro 5 or Euro 6 compliant diesel engine, pollution is controlled. NOx is mitigated. Particles are mitigated. And yeah, that’s complex, but certainly do-able.

DPF beats lung cancer any day of the week, in my view. The complexity is worthwhile.

Check out my report on DPF problems >>

So, let’s just be clear on this: Pollution is a technical challenge - a combustion management and exhaust treatment challenge. Engineers can do this. Because, hey, engineers use applied science to solve problems and change the world.

But greenhouse - CO2 - that’s intrinsic to combustion. It’s one of the two key byproducts of burning hydrocarbons. (And this is as true of coal-fired electricity as it is of the liquid fuels - it’s why EVs are a fraud if you burn coal to power them up.)

You can’t subvert CO2 production using clever engineering in the way you can mitigate pollution. CO2 is part of the deal at a deep level of hydrocarbon exploitation.

The only way to minimise CO2 is by minimising the fuel you burn - by making the combustion process more efficient.

Diesel = less greenhouse gas

Diesels are more efficient than petrol - by a long shot. The compression is higher, allowing the expansion to take place over a greater range, which delivers a huge boost in thermal efficiency. Meaning: Less CO2 for any given driving.

Here’s an example: Kia Sorento V6 petrol - 235 grams per kilometre of CO2 (combined cycle). This is a laboratory-standardised test. The 2.2 diesel: 190 grams per kilometre. That’s a 25 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas, thanks to burning diesel instead of petrol.

You can’t argue with that - it’s thermodynamics.

We’re not going to ban diesel in Australia. It will not happen.

Conclusion: The pace of change Down Under

There are still 221,583 cars in Australia today, that require leaded petrol. That’s according to the Shitsville Bureau of statistics for 2017. We banned tetra-ethyl lead from petrol nationally by January the 1st, 2002.

Then-Federal Minister for the Environment Robert Hill announced that on 15 March 2000.

That’s more than 18 years ago. And still, today, you can drive a leaded petrol powered HQ Holden over the Shitsville Harbour Bridge, just you and your four closest mates, wearing Village People Costumes on the way to the Mardi Gras, with complete impunity. (Finding the unleaded fuel might be a challenge - but the vehicles themselves are still on the roads...)

Given the staggering pace with which ‘Straya tightens up its act environmentally, if you buy a diesel conveyance today, it will be dead and buried, pushing up daisies, demised, passed on, requiescat in pace, kicked the bucket, a stiff, pining for the friggin’ fjords, and we’ll still be buying diesel in the hearts of our cities.


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