Ford Offers U.K. Drivers Cash to Scrap Dirty Diesel Engines

Ford Motor Co. became the latest automaker to offer cash to U.K. drivers if they scrap the most polluting vehicles on the roads, targeting about 15 million cars and vans across the country.

From Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, Ford will offer to pay drivers as much as 4,000 pounds ($5,200) for cars and 7,000 pounds for vans if they replace vehicles at least eight years old with newer models, according to a press release by the Detroit-based automaker on Tuesday.

Ford and its peers already give German drivers financial incentives to replace the dirtiest cars. It’s seeking to tackle an pollution problem caused by a loophole in European vehicle standards, which meant harmful nitrogen dioxide levels in the air rose as carbon dioxide emissions fell.

The U.K. has the largest fleet of diesel vehicles in Europe after drivers were encouraged to switch from gasoline, which emits more carbon dioxide for each mile driven. Mercedes-Benz AG and BMW AG, which also makes the Mini, have started similar scrappage programs in the U.K., according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders.

The U.K. government last month joined France in saying it would seek to end the sale of new diesel and gasoline fueled cars by 2040 as part of a wider plan to tackle the country’s toxic air pollution levels that have exceeded legal limits for the last seven years. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said a diesel scrappage program in the capital could costs as much as 515 million pounds.

“It’s a good time for the industry to respond,” said Andy Barratt, chairman and managing director of Ford Britain, in a phone interview. “There are around 15 million older vehicles we’re targeting on the roads and updating these would have a positive and immediate effect on air quality.”

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