What could fuel your WAV?
Once upon a time there was a government who was led to believe that a diesel engine was as clean as a petrol engine. The government was so happy it told us all to go out and buy diesel cars, so we did. Everyone was happy, the driver got more miles to the gallon and ever-expanding servicing intervals and the government was content it had helped us all. Not everyone was happy though and some complained that diesel was not the Utopian solution we were being led to believe. Maybe, just maybe Thomas the Tank Engine was right back in the day.
Other governments came to power, made diesel fuel more expensive, raised road tax and made the MOT harder for diesels to pass but still the great British public stricken down by rising fuel costs continued to buy diesel cars. Had we been deceived; how could this happen? Who could possibly have thought that diesel; oily, less refined and smelly before it was burned could be worse for our environment than the perfume that is petrol?
Cynical maybe, but the bottom line is it is easier to look back and see we were misinformed. The most recent fine from the German Government on Volkswagen of a billion Euros is on top of the eye watering 4.3 billion Euro fine by the USA proves that Governments are serious about pollution and that is no bad thing. Now we will begin to think about the future of the vehicles we own but it’s important to remember that diesels do have advantages as well as disadvantages. Just like petrol engines a decent diesel engine can be a pleasure to drive and still easier on the wallet. No-one should dismiss them because they aren’t going to disappear in a hurry regardless of how much shouty noise comes from government and lobbyists. It is important not to forget that they are now also much, much cleaner than they were and massive improvements are still being made.
The truth is that in the wheelchair accessible vehicle market the majority of vehicles are still diesel so should we stop buying them? A large-scale ban isn’t likely to happen any time soon, it just isn’t possible and lives still need to be led. You still need the freedom that wheelchair accessible vehicles give you so why delay your own happiness.
Diesel engines – good or bad?
Below are some points that we hope will help you make informed choices about what fuels your next wheelchair accessible vehicle and why the choice is fairly limited.
A good choice of electric cars at reasonable prices are a way off for now, of course there are some amazing break throughs. Two matters to consider when looking at electric cars are what are they going to be worth in the future and, will they have a resale value worthy of their cost at new? We were recently offered a 2016 Tesla Model S, the vehicle heavily praised by Jeremy Clarkson when it was first launched and even today it is still loaded with cutting-edge technology, but the concern is for the batteries. In the end we declined it because we just couldn’t value it and because we couldn’t be confident the batteries were still good enough and the cost to replace them could be significant. Even since 2016 battery technology has moved on very fast, so it is important to be vigilant. In a recent article too, concerns have been raised about how much real damage is caused to our planet in producing electric cars’ batteries would give us the economy we are seeking as owners of electric vehicles. Of course, the likelihood of any being able to be converted to be wheelchair accessible is low for the foreseeable future too so this is an option that we probably won’t see for a while yet.
Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) is another possibility and a good investment for lower ongoing vehicle ownership costs even now. It is however important to consider that LPG does still come from the production of fossil fuels so whilst it is lower in cost it isn’t exactly a way to save our planet. If we should ever run out of oil LPG would be gone too and its retail cost could possibly rise proportionately with fuels too. In terms of wheelchair accessible vehicles, it is important to consider whether a vehicle with a lowered floor can have the adaption as converters often change the fuel tanks for modified versions due to the lowered section of the floors so always check it can be done if you have a vehicle in mind. It’s worth researching just to find out what the possibilities are as it maybe the perfect option for you.
These vehicles seem to be an excellent solution as they use both fossil fuels, including LPG and electricity to find a balance between supply of energy and creation of it to charge the batteries using smart technology to manage the process. More and more hybrid vehicles are coming into production and this would seem an excellent balance for now. The problem still remains that the vehicle must be able to be converted to allow wheelchair access first and these are very small in number currently as hybrids and so far no hybrid vehicle as a WAV is readily available. This is one to look out for in the future though.
Petrol versus Diesel
This is the big discussion of the moment as we are sure you are aware, and it would seem like a no brainer but is it as simple as we think? After all, when we are talking about the wheelchair accessible market it just isn’t that simple at all. A few years ago, we were told to go out and buy a diesel they are better, cheaper and cleaner. Now of course anyone who bought a diesel-powered vehicle is committing a cardinal sin by keeping them. Here are some facts and figures we have researched and then applied our experience and knowledge of the wheelchair accessible vehicle market to bring to you.
Diesel cars represent 80% plus of the current second-hand market place for wheelchair accessible vehicles. This of course is because the vehicles for sale now were converted when diesels were the only way to go. This is an issue that is difficult to get around simply based on the fact there are too many people chasing too few petrol wheelchair accessible vehicles.
We are told that diesel cars are not economical for low annual mileages but in fact many wheelchair accessible vehicles do as little as 1000 miles a year and sometimes even less. It is important to ask yourself what cost difference there really is here and, would I be better considering a diesel over petrol for the wider choice, more competitive prices and of course more suitable vehicles for the wheelchair user’s needs. The market pressure on second hand petrol WAVs is substantial, we know because we see their cost rising for us to buy. If your only concern is environmental impact, then perfectly understandably you would refuse a diesel and consider the greenest fuel possible. That having been said why not seek out a diesel vehicle that could be converted to LPG, that way you are at least making use of the waste from fossil fuel burning and saving some money along the way. Always take advice on this matter before you buy a diesel car, not everyone believes LPG conversion is the right thing to do.
The MOT test, DPFs and emissions
If you read the press you may well be getting mixed messages about which vehicles have a DPF (diesel particulate filter) and how the changes to the emissions aspects of the MOT test will affect you. It is true that the MOT test has been tightened up in several areas but after reading up on it we conclude these are all very good things and certainly don’t really affect any of our vehicles. In the end it comes down to consumers’ decisions about what they do and hopefully this article will help. What it boils down to is the importance of reading the small print, something many of us understandably try and avoid at any cost. The diesel particulate filter (DPF) is a filter that captures and stores exhaust soot to reduce emissions from diesel cars. They do of course have a finite capacity, so this trapped soot periodically must be emptied or ‘burned off’ to regenerate the DPF. Manufacturers will tell you how they can be “burned off” and usually this would be a need to drive your diesel car at a certain number of revs per minute over a certain distance but do consult your vehicle’s manufacturer. The DPF can of course be cleaned manually and this should be a part of your annual vehicle checks when servicing your vehicle and of course depending on your vehicle’s manufacturer guidelines.
Important facts to note are that the strict new regime is around vehicles with a DPF and not those without. If a DPF is found to have been tampered with this would be a “major fault” by an MOT test station. If a vehicle with a DPF is failing (any smoke would need to be seen by the MOT station tester for this to be declared a “major fault”) this would result in your car being off the road for expensive repairs. If you are a wheelchair accessible vehicle owner this is not something you want to hear of course. It will also be off the road if it has been tampered with too. Should your DPF fail or be failing you will be pleased to hear that our 2-year Premier Autoguard Warranty fully covers your DPF on all our wheelchair accessible vehicles. Those that don’t, and they are quite rare now of course because DPFs have been fitted to vehicles for almost 20 years now we reliably understand cannot fail the MOT test. Below is a link to the summary of exactly what has changed from the Government website.
We here at Southern Mobility Vehicles see these standards as probably the best way to reduce vehicle emissions and allow customers to make their own informed choices based on how much waste comes out of the vehicles they are considering buying. There are some wobblers that have been thrown in which do seem unfair towards very low diesel emissions vehicles versus petrol cars such as the soon to be the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) charge set to replace the current T-Charge. Have a look at the link below and be informed how much it will cost you to take your car into central London, it is a real cost now and it will probably increase. After all it is emissions that are the big issue here and from where we are standing they now look very good indeed, maybe diesel is not the devil we are being sold after all. Take a look at the link below which explains what is happening in London and how that will change going forward.
The Euro Emissions Standards are targets for manufacturers to reach to enable them to sell their vehicles by improving their engines efficiencies and of course save us a little cash on road tax. Taxi firms are also under pressure to change their vehicles in larger cities including London as well, so it is a very real and happening right now. For the individual customer looking for a wheelchair accessible vehicle there will be little difference to them especially if they don’t pay road tax. For those that are concerned about the environment please ask us about our vehicles, we are happy to tell you which vehicles will cost you less road tax each year. We strive to buy vehicles that have the lowest emissions possible but sadly there are still some vehicle’s engines that are not as clean as we’d like but are overwhelmingly practical for wheelchair users, so we keep them in stock. All in all if you look at Euro 6 standards and then look at vehicle emissions it could actually be that the work done on improving engines by manufacturers has made the diesel engine a viable option. We wish we could always and only stock very low emission vehicles, but it just isn’t that simple. Take a look at the link below from What Car’s website to see how engine efficiency is changing, it’s good to know it’s actually working.
What this all means to you and your WAV choice
If more people are seeking petrol WAVs and if they are deciding this by informed choice then this is all well and good and is to be supported by us as a retailer of wheelchair accessible vehicles. Of course, to have a real choice it is very important to consider what the needs are for the wheelchair user as well as the driver of the WAV plus the environmental impact and ultimately the long-term health of our planet. The difficulties of deciding between petrol and diesel (only because they are the two main fuel types in the WAV market) are complicated by emotional facts such as life expectancy, comfort levels, specification preferences, auto/manual transmission and, the list goes on.
Sometimes the need for a wheelchair accessible vehicle is overwhelming because a relative might feel “trapped” away from their home in a care facility with an overwhelming desire to get home. There are indeed many more factors in the decision-making process than just petrol or diesel in the wheelchair accessible vehicle market and we would like to reassure you that any vehicle we have, diesel or otherwise, is here because we know it is a well built, reliable vehicle that does what it needs to do for you, our customer. We are only here once, and the diesel debacle will rumble on, what are your needs right now that will change the lives of your loved ones around you. The future of our planet is paramount but is it really just about diesels and a choice we are having compromised which could allow us to forsake our nearest and dearest’s needs now. This may seem blunt and even blasé, but it isn’t intended to be. Worrying about what fuel you use probably won’t put a smile on the wheelchair user in your life when the freedom on four wheels is so much more important. What ever decision you make, as long as it is right for you, it is right for you.