The future for diesel campervans

With all the concerns around diesel campervans one of our customers most pressing concerns is ‘Should I buy a diesel campervan?’

Below we have tried to answer this surprisingly complex question

It used to be the case that buying a campervan was simple.  The only real option was to build your campervan on a diesel vehicle, and the advantages, apparently were many. 

Unfortunately, those days are gone.  Diesel vehicles have been subject to a barrage of negative publicity over the past two years, leaving customers confused and uncertain.  From concerns such as whether your diesel campervan will have good resale value, through to what the emissions are doing to your lungs, serious questions are being raised. 

Whilst for many people, diesel campervans probably remain the overall best choice, for a significant number, especially those who are in the market for a small camper, other options may work better. 

The pros and cons of diesel vehicles

The many benefits of diesel vehicles for campers are hard to ignore, despite all the recent publicity. 

Fuel efficiency of Diesel Campervans

Diesel vans are fuel efficient, more so than petrol vans, making long trips cheaper in terms of fuel cost.  For campervan owners who only want to use their vans for long trips, this may be a deal-breaker in favour of going for a diesel vehicle. 

Engine Torque

Diesel engines also traditionally have more torque.  This makes them better for moving heavy loads and towing.  For people who want a larger campervan, this means that a diesel engine is probably going to be more suited to carrying the extra payload that a large camper conversion will add to the weight of the vehicle.  Many campervan owners like to tow items such as boats when they go away for a trip, which the added torque of a diesel engine may be better suited to. 

Pricing of Diesel Campervans

Diesel vans still dominate the new and used market. Diesel vans are often cheaper than petrol vans, at the moment.  This is partly because petrol vans tend to be newer models. 

Emissions

Whilst newer diesel vehicles are fairly competitive in their CO2 emissions, the real problem comes with the other gases emitted by diesel engines.  Gases such as nitrogen dioxide are key contributors to smog, for example, which is not good for our health.

Another issue primarily for small campervan users who also want to use their van as an everyday vehicle, involves the diesel particulate filter (DPF).  This is a small device fitted to the exhaust of all new diesel vans, which traps some of the more harmful diesel particles. 

Once trapped, the particles are superheated and burned off during the DPF’s regeneration cycle. However, this regeneration needs at least 15 miles to complete and if it doesn’t get enough miles it eventually clogs up and stops working. This is particularly relevant to small campervan owners who normally use their van as a daily run-around, with longer trips every so often.  If you only cover very short distances most of the time, a modern diesel van may not be suitable for you. 

Increasing restrictions

Many governments are looking to limit diesel vans from city and town centres over the coming decade.  In the meantime, London, for example, will soon charge all diesel vehicles but the very newest, within a fairly wide zone.  If you have a large campervan and / or mainly intend to drive it rurally, this may not matter to you.  If, on the other hand, you are looking for a combination campervan and everyday vehicle, and will regularly be going in and out of towns or cities that have or may consider introducing charges, then a diesel campervan may not be right for you.

So what campervan should I buy?

If you have managed to get to the end of this blog, well done you! You may have decided that a diesel campervan is the right one, in which case, lucky you!  If you are still not sure, or want to explore other options, you could take a look at our other blogs on petrol vans, electric vans, and what’s the deal on LPG.


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