There’s been a lot said about diesel fuel over the past few years, but a statement from Simon Birkett, founder and director of Clean Air London, at the inaugural Jaguar Land Rover Tech Fest could be one of the more controversial ones yet.

“Diesel is the devil, and we do need to ban it,” Birkett said while sitting on a panel of experts, including Jaguar Land Rover’s head of powertrain development, Iain Grey.

“The more complex questions are: which vehicles; where; when; and how. That is much more complicated – it’s about providing the infrastructure, doing the sort of things Jaguar Land Rover is taking the lead on,” Birkett said of the British company’s commitment to have an all-electrified line-up from 2020 onwards.

“It’s about some bans, some charging, some public education campaigns and some incentives. We are already finding there are a lot fewer people who would choose a diesel vehicle as their next vehicle.”

Rather than agree with Birkett, Grey suggested the decision of the British company to only offer a range of mild-hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric models in new vehicles from 2020 will build upon the four-cylinder Ingenium turbocharged diesel and petrol engine range.

“Electrification is supplementing the Ingenium family of engines. We’re hybridising those engine technologies in different ways. Absolutely we see a future for the Ingenium engine family and the Wolverhampton manufacturing facility,” Grey said.

“Fundamentally, when you look at the technology a diesel engine can provide in today’s tech, we’re looking at an engine that can achieve a comparable level of NOx (nitrous oxide) emissions compared to a petrol engine, but will consistently deliver 20 to 25 per cent better fuel consumption, and therefore lower CO2 emissions.

“When we look at these Euro 6 engines that we use, that employ after-treatment technologies such as selective catalytic reduction and diesel particulate filters – the combination of those two reduce the NOx and emissions to a point where you can be confident you’re driving a ‘clean diesel’,” Grey said.

“When you consider that we have to look at both the global warming picture and the localised air quality picture, the combination of those two things together means the diesel engine is absolutely a valid choice. But one of the key things from our perspective is we’re engineering petrol solutions, diesel solutions, fully electric solutions, and as per the recent announcement, all of our diesel and petrol versions will be hybridised in the future as well.

“We’re engineering the full gamut of systems to allow the customer the choice, to make sure the customer can make the right decision for their particular circumstances,” Grey said.

The first Ingenium petrol models to be sold in Australia will arrive in the new Jaguar F-Pace 25t models, along with the XE 25t and in Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque and Velar models afterwards.

Jaguar’s first fully electric model, the I-Pace, will reach Australian soil in 2018. Land Rover already has a couple of hybrid options on offer – the Range Rover Sport and the Range Rover Vogue – but no electric cars or plug-in hybrids, for that matter.