The Top 5: City Diesel Car Bans May Be Affecting Sales

Happy Thursday friends!  Here’s my now monthly take on the five most interesting developments in future fuels and vehicles trends in May in more of a condensed form so that you can easily scan and jump to the item(s) that are of most interest to you!

  1. Diesel NOx Emissions Underestimated: A study published in Nature and lead by the ICCT has found that laboratory tests of NOx emissions from diesel vehicles significantly underestimate the real-world emissions by as much as 50%. Excess diesel NOx emissions in 2015 were also linked to approximately 38,000 premature deaths worldwide. Meantime, policy announcements from major cities restricting diesel vehicles have raised doubts in consumers’ minds about being unable to drive a diesel in important urban areas and, as a result, sales appear to be decreasing. Read more about it here.
  2. PM Filters for GDI Cars: Are new gasoline cars environmentally friendly? Not always, says a new study by Swiss scientists at the research organization, Empa. Some gasoline direct-injection (GDI) engines emit just as much PM as unfiltered diesel cars did in the past, and they “carry” numerous carcinogenic substances. Particle filters could remedy this situation, they say, and should be mandatory on all GDI vehicles. Read more about it here.
  3. Rethinking RethinkX: A report from the think tank RethinkX released earlier this month projected that “[w]e are on the cusp of the fastest, deepest, most consequential disruption of transportation in history. By 2030, within 10 years of regulatory approval of Autonomous Vehicles (AVs), 95 percent of U.S. passenger miles traveled will be served by on-demand autonomous electric vehicles owned by fleets, not individuals, in a new business model we call ‘transport-as-a-service’ (TaaS).” Read more about it here.
  4. No Thanks, I’ll Just Pay the Fines: Some ship owners may simply ignore impending International Maritime Organization (IMO) sulfur standards and pay the fines since that will be cheaper than compliance options such as scrubbers and cleaner fuels. By 2020, the IMO standards will reduce sulfur by 86% requiring ships to use fuel with 0.5 wt% sulfur (over the current 3.5 wt%). Read more about it here.
  5. Combining the Three Rs: According to researchers at the University of California at Davis and the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy, three transportation revolutions are in sight: vehicle electrification, automation and widespread shared mobility. Together, they say they could help reduce traffic, improve livability, eventually save trillions of dollars each year and reduce urban transportation CO2 emissions by 80% or more worldwide by 2050. Read more about it here.

Honorable mentions:

  • The Economist: Fatal Attraction: The Link Between Pollution and Heart Disease – Tiny particles of soot migrate through the lungs, into the bloodstream and thence to the walls of blood vessels, where they cause damage. Until now, this has remained hypothetical. But a study published in ACS Nano, by Mark Miller of Edinburgh University, suggests not only is this theory correct, but also that those particles are specifically carried to parts of blood vessels where they will do maximum damage—the arterial plaques associated with cardiovascular disease.
  • Salon: Sorry, Tesla Owners, But Your Electric Car Isn’t As Green As You Think It Is – “Not all electric cars are the same, and until the U.S. more fully embraces renewable energy sources, buying an electric car isn’t necessarily the greenest option out there. In fact, some hybrid vehicles can be greener options than fully electric cars.”
  • Energy Transitions: Better Energy, Greater Prosperity – According to this report, reducing carbon emissions by 50% by 2040 is achievable but “business, government and investors must act now to accelerate clean electrification, decarbonization beyond power and energy productivity improvement.” This would require the “almost total decarbonization of power generation and the electrification of a wider set of activities”, including transport. “The paper is undeniably worthy and well intentioned but its contents are so detached from reality as to be dangerous,” according to the Financial Times.


Tammy Klein is a consultant and strategic advisor providing market and policy intelligence and analysis on transportation fuels to the auto and oil industries, governments, and NGOs. She writes and advises on petroleum fuels, biofuels, alternative fuels, automotive fuels, and fuels policy.