More diesel cars on Belgian roads

The number of new gasoline fuelled cars in Belgium has dropped significantly over the past 20 years. In 1990 about 65% of people buying a new car chose a gasoline fuelled car, this has dropped to only 25% now. In an interview Maarten Matienko of the automobile association VAB expresses his concern with this evolution.

Relatively, the price of diesel at the pump has become more expensive. In 1990 diesel was 23% cheaper than gasoline. Now diesel is only 19% cheaper than gas. In absolute figures the difference is even greater: diesel is now relative to gasoline 10 eurocents more expensive.

"People don't think in terms of absolute figures," points out Maarten Matienko of the automobile association VAB in an interview with the De Zondag newspaper.

"That's why many people think it's cheaper to drive a diesel." A diesel car is only cheaper for people who use their car a lot, say the experts, pointing out that the purchase price of a diesel is much higher than for a gasoline fuelled car.

According to Mr Matienko the government has been implementing an 'anti-gasoline' policy. "Nowhere else in Europe is the difference between the price of diesel and gasoline at the pump so big," says Mr Matienko. Further, Mr Matienko thinks that the tax advantage for 'green cars' sends a wrong signal. "It is based only on CO2 (carbon dioxide) and does not take NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) and particulate matter into account."

"In this way the government is promoting the sale of small cars without soot filters," says Mr Matienko, adding, "At the same time Belgium is above the norm for particulate matter and NO2."

The new Flemish measure to reimburse the full cost of installing soot filters in cars that don't have a filter is misplaced, according to Mr Matienko. "Soot filters that are installed during the manufacturing of the car withholds 90% of the particulate matter, where as installing a filter afterwards only filters out 30-40%"