Fingers are being pointed at the Government for not setting the right example when it comes to switching to cleaner vehicles after an investigation revealed that just one per cent of the Department for Transport’s fleet are electric.
Of the 1,525 vehicles it currently uses, only 22 are pure electric models.
Incredibly, 1,328 of the department’s motors – which represents 87 per cent of the fleet – are diesels, despite the Government trying to force drivers out of these cars due to their ‘dirty’ connotations.
The statistics have been divulged by Air Quality News, which submitted a Freedom of Information request to the DfT to discover how clean its fleet currently is.
Of the remaining 1,525 motors registered to the department, only 43 are petrol and 134 are hybrids.
Of the five association bodies as part of the DfT, the Government Car Service has the most pure electric models, with 18 out of 92 motors (20 per cent).
That compares to the Maritime & Coast Guard Agency having zero, with 99 per cent of its fleet being diesels (the remainder are petrol powered).
|Name of association body||Pure electric vehicles||Hybrid vehicles||Petrol vehicles||Diesel vehicles|
|Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA)||2||9||0||21|
|Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency (DVSA)||1||97||8||779|
|Government Car Service||18||26||28||20|
|Maritime & Coast Guard Agency (MCA)||0||0||7||503|
|Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA)||1||2||0||3|
|Source: Air Quality News FOI request to the Department of Transport|
The breakdown of its fleet and obvious reliance of diesel is likely to spark anger among private vehicle owners and the motor sector in light of the Government’s five-year crackdown on oil burners since the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal.
With diesel being coined the ‘dirty’ fuel type, after it was revealed in 2015 that some VW Group models were producing almost 40 times the legal level of harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, ministers have since increased taxation on cars with diesel engines.
This ‘demonisation’ of diesel has also seen tougher restrictions on their use in city centres, with only the latest models adhering to Euro6 emission standards eligible for the Ultra Low Emissions Zone in London and Clean Air Zones being proposed by other cities around the country from next year.
Some councils have also proposed introducing bans on the use of older – or all – diesel cars in their areas in a bid to reduce air pollution.
As a result of these measures, demand for diesel cars has plummeted in recent years.
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At the height of their popularity – when the government was promoting oil burners for their lower carbon emissions – diesel made up around half of all new cars bought in the UK.
Latest industry figures show that just 14 per cent of new cars bought in September 2020 were diesels.
This has also sent the value of diesel models crashing, especially for owners living in cities, as buyers of second-hand vehicles shun them in favour of used petrol, hybrid or electric cars.
Department for Transport’s fuel type share across its fleet
Source: Air Quality News
The results of the investigation also show that the government has made little progress in leading from the front for a switch to low-emissions cars.
In 2018, ministers pledged that a quarter of central government vehicles would be electric by 2022.
That would require the Department for Transport to increase its electric car fleet from 22 to 381 in the next two years.
The Government said its entire fleet would be 100 per cent electric in 2030, which is just five years before the proposed ban on the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars is widely expected to be enforced.
Air Quality News said the incredibly lower number of electric cars in the DfT fleet is ‘particularly concerning’ given that road transport is – according to research – responsible for 80 per cent of NOx emissions.
It said the DfT had labelled its hybrid-powered cars as ‘ultra low emission vehicles’, as part of efforts to deceive onlookers about the eco credentials of its fleet.
However, studies by environmental campaign groups revealed earlier this year that hybrid cars aren’t as clean as they are being advertised.
Carbon dioxide emissions from plug-in hybrid vehicles – also known as PHEVs – are an average of two-and-a-half times higher than official tests indicate, joint analysis by Greenpeace and Transport & Environment found.
They claimed a typical PHEV emits 117g of CO2 per kilometre on the road, compared with the 44g suggested in official measurements conducted in laboratory conditions.
Commenting on the DfT’s fleet, Transport & Environment UK director Greg Archer said it had ‘a mountain to climb’ to hit its 2022 targets and said it should be ‘leading the shift to clean vehicles, not hanging on to the past’.
In response to the Air Quality News report, a DfT spokesman said: ‘We’re committed to transitioning to cleaner, greener vehicles across government, which is why almost half of the Department for Transport’s Government Car Service fleet are ultra-low emission vehicles and why we’re working to increase the number of green vehicles in the fleet as quickly as possible.
‘Central government is working at pace to transition a quarter of its fleet to electric by 2022 and all cars to electric by 2030 and are supporting the UK’s shift to electric vehicles.’