LONDON -- Ford Motor became the latest automaker to offer cash to UK 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, the automaker said in a statement Tuesday.
Older Euro 1 to Euro 4 diesel vehicles have been blamed for emitting higher levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide pollution.
The UK has Europe's largest fleet of diesel vehicles after drivers were encouraged to switch from gasoline, which emits more carbon dioxide for each kilometer driven. BMW Group, Mercedes-Benz and Vauxhall have all launched similar schemes in recent weeks to encourage UK motorists to trade in older vehicles.
The UK 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 cost 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. "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."
Ford, BMW, Vauxhall and Mercedes sell around 1 million cars in Britain, more than a third of all new car registrations.
The scrappage schemes will help support sales at a time when demand for new cars is beginning to slide substantially for the first time in around six years.
In July, new-car registrations fell 9 percent, the fourth consecutive monthly decline, hit by a number of factors including uncertainty over Brexit and lack of clarity over future government plans around new levies on diesel models.
Reuters contributed to this report