It’s no secret that Filipinos are fond of diesel-powered vehicles. In fact, when a new car comes up in the market, netizens often ask if there’s a diesel variant available for that model. Case in point: the Mitsubishi Xpander. The all-new MPV made its way to the Philippines to essentially replace the Adventure AUV, but people were quick to throw stones at it because of its lack of diesel option. People put their foot down and immediately declared that the Xpander won’t ever replace the well-loved Adventure.
The Xpander was just an example, and with several car launches that have happened this year, that has always been the case. Based on the bulk-load of social media engagements and inquiries that we get, we can testify that a lot of car-buyers look at diesel as the fuel of choice when buying a car.
There are two main reasons for this: (1) diesel fuel costs less than gasoline in the Philippines, and (2) diesel-powered cars are generally more fuel-efficient than their gasoline-fed counterparts. With the continuous increase of fuel prices in our country, the tendency to go for a more economic alternative is inevitable, and more often regarded as the smarter choice.
The Harmful Effects of Diesel
But the smarter choice doesn’t always come clean, and in this case, it literally isn’t. Diesel has been proven to burn less cleanly than gasoline, especially in older vehicles that are yet to adopt newer technologies. Old diesel engines are prone to produce soot as part of its combustion process, which includes a chemical reaction with sulfur. It’s not rocket science that this chemical isn’t something that we should be ingesting, more so, in younger individuals that are more susceptible to its harmful effects.
In addition, a study in the U.K. suggests that diesel engines have higher nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate emissions than gasoline power plants with catalytic converters – the latter is almost every modern gasoline-powered cars. Moreover, according to a study by Standford University, even with catalytic converters or purifiers in place and less carbon dioxide emissions, diesel cars produce 25 to 400 times more particulate black carbon and associated organic matter (a.k.a. soot) per kilometer than gasoline-fed vehicles. Both fuel types have their own pros and cons, but the adverse effects of diesel are more direct to health and the environment.
Diesel vs. the World
With these harmful effects of diesel emissions, the world, or the majority of it, has been on the fight against its use. European countries are on the verge of banning diesel-fed cars on the streets; a proposition that rooted back to 2016 when four major cities (Paris, Mexico City, Madrid, and Athens) commit to ban diesel vehicles within 10 years, specifically by 2025.
Emissions standard across Europe has also been astringent. If Euro 4 (or Euro IV for trucks) sounds familiar to you, then you’re on the right track. The numerical representation of emissions standard shows how advanced (or how far off, for that matter) a country is when it comes to regulating the harmful effects of internal combustion engines, particularly those that are fed by diesel.
The Philippines is currently in Euro 4, which, in a nutshell, means that vehicles below this standard aren’t allowed to be sold by the dealers anymore. This led to the phasing out of the Mitsubishi Adventure and Isuzu Crosswind AUVs that were both running in Euro 2-standard diesel engines. Europe is now in Euro 6, while some countries (like Indonesia) are still in Euro 2 standard as of this writing.
The initiatives for cleaner air don’t only come from the nations. The manufacturers themselves are making the move to ban internal combustion engines in their lineups.
That doesn’t end there. Europe has also started changing the way they test vehicles for emissions and fuel efficiency. Called Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), the new procedures use real-world tests and stricter measurement of emissions. This put automotive companies on the fence, which led them to revisit the production of their cars.
The initiatives for cleaner air don’t only come from the nations. The manufacturers themselves are making the move to ban internal combustion engines in their lineups. Volvo aims to go all-electric by 2025, with the mission to have climate-neutral manufacturing operations by that time. Nissan, on the other hand, has also announced that it will no longer develop new diesel engines for its vehicles. The rest are expected to follow suit, as the automotive technology is starting to shift towards electrification. Now, we know you’ll argue that electrification only redirects pollution to other places other than the car’s exhaust. There is a certain truth to that at some point, but that’s another story that would need a different discussion.
With all these efforts considered, the world is on to a bright future when it comes to cleaner environment. But the question is: Are Filipinos ready to embrace the shift?
What does it mean for us Filipinos
The whole point of developing technologies is to move forward, and not get stuck to something that we are used to. The common hearsays don’t help either, as what’s true years ago may still or may not hold true today. So, when your tito says diesel is better, that doesn’t mean that it’s true. There are a number of things you should consider, and the environment is one.
An old dysfunctional car is always replaceable, but a destroyed planet isn’t. Let’s all do our part to prevent that from happening.
Filipinos, no matter how hard it is, should start rethinking their choices when it comes to fuels. Our environment is failing and climate change is real. While there are many factors that cause this dramatic change, we know for a fact that internal combustion engines, particularly diesel, is one of the major proponents to this phenomena. We could all start by choosing the cleaner options, or seek alternatives when it comes to fuel sources, such as electric vehicles (EVs).
There’s no debate when it comes to the readiness of the Philippines to completely forget diesel; we are not. But slowly, even with baby footsteps, we should all think about it, and give it a chance for a better Earth. An old dysfunctional car is always replaceable, but a destroyed planet isn’t. Let’s all do our part to prevent that from happening.
Source: motor1.com [1, 2] | wltpfacts.eu | Indonesia Investments | Standford University | New York Times | Union of Concerned Scientists | airquality.org.uk