Diesel-powered cars have come under heavy fire since the World Health Organization classified their exhaust fumes as a carcinogen. The latest jab at oil-burning vehicles comes from two left-wing French politicians who want to ban them from entering big cities starting in 2015.
The idea traces its roots to Jean-Marie le Guen, a member of the French parliament. He suggested on his personal website that all diesel-powered cars, vans and buses should be banned from entering the city limits of Paris in order to improve the city's air quality.
Several days later, senator Jean-Vincent Placé backed le Guen's idea and took it a step further by expanding the ban to all of the country's big cities. Furthermore, he added that the French government should take steps to ban the sale of diesel fuel throughout the entire country in the medium-term future and suggested that automakers like Peugeot quit developing diesel-electric hybrid drivetrains.
"Banning diesels is inevitable," explained le Guen in an interview with Libération. "In Paris the amount of diesel-related microparticles that are found in the air exceeds European norms. The exhaust fumes emitted by diesel engines cause several types of cancer, it has been calculated, tested and proven by several scientists."
France's Socialist government has not fully backed the idea, saying only that clean air zones are going to be implemented in seven cities over the next year as part of a pilot program.
Diesel is significantly cheaper than gasoline throughout most of France, making it a favorite among car buyers. From January to August of this year, 83.5 percent of new cars were powered by a diesel engine, up from 72 percent in 2011.
Photo by Ronan Glon.