Matt Greenop: Is it time to kill diesel charges?

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BMW 320d EfficientDynamics. Photo / Supplied
BMW 320d EfficientDynamics. Photo / Supplied

After driving a diesel-powered BMW this week, it gave me reason to think about why there aren't more diesel cars on our roads.

The 320d is an impressive machine - loads of torque, an eight-speed auto and a slick set of dynamic controls that take it from being a foliage-friendly machine into an engaging, sporty point-and-punch sedan. And it only uses 4.4L/100km. In fact, over half of BMWs sold here are now oil burners.

In Europe, about half of all car buyers are doing their shopping in the diesel aisle. This reflects the fact that not only are diesel cars impressively cheap to run, they're a lot cleaner than they used to be.

Smoke belching, rattling diesel cars are a thing of the past, with manufacturers forced to meet increasingly stringent emissions rules.

So why aren't Kiwis jumping into diesels at the same rate as the Europeans? The cars are available here, there's no shortage of diesel and it's cheap - at least when compared to petrol.

It comes down to the hideous requirement that owners of passenger diesels are forced to pay road user charges.

These charges were obviously designed for commercial road transport - why should Aunty Doris pay them to drive her little diesel shopping basket?

Private passenger vehicles should not be subject to these charges. Forking out $40 for every 1000kms is a nightmare. That means for every two tanks of gas in the 320d, there's more money to spend, and added inconvenience.

This is a huge impediment to the car industry, and confuses many buyers to the point they'll just pick petrol, when given the choice, simply because it's easier.

We think it's time the Government rethought road user charges - what do you reckon? To have your say, click to add your comments at the top of this page.

- NZ Herald

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