Ford is the latest car company to launch an incentive for UK consumers to trade in cars over seven years old, by offering £2,000 off some new models.
Unlike schemes by BMW and Mercedes, which are only for diesels, Ford will also accept petrol cars.
Ford said all of the part-exchanged vehicles will be scrapped, having an immediate effect on air quality.
Campaigners said it was a step in the right direction but the government had to do more.
‘Part of a journey’
Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, Andy Barratt, chairman and managing director of Ford of Britain, said its scrappage scheme “is part of a journey” to improve air quality.
“We have some pretty large incentives here, up to £7,000 if you have a commercial transit vehicle,” he said.
“We’re the only scheme open to commercials. It is part of a journey.
“Air quality is a much bigger debate and getting older vehicles off the road is part of that.
“New technology, such as plug-in hybrids etc, are all part of that longer journey we need to work together.”
He denied it was simply a ploy to sell more cars.
Consumers will be given £2,000 off new Ford models ranging in price from about £12,000 to more than £20,000.
Ford said that by combining the scrappage incentive with other standard offers, customers could receive up to £4,000 off a car or £7,000 off the cost of a van.
Under Ford’s scheme old cars, from any manufacturer, can be exchanged until the end of December.
The cars that can be traded in include any built to emissions standards that applied before 2010.
Vauxhall ran a similar scrappage scheme earlier this year, as well as in 2015 and 2016.
James Baggott, editor-in-chief of Car Dealer magazine, speaking on “Wake Up to Money” on BBC Radio 5 Live, said the scheme was good for Ford, for consumers and the environment because it meant the worst polluting cars were being removed from roads.
“It means people can swap one of these old, dirty diesels, which is going to be worth less than the £2,000 that they (Ford) are giving them in part exchange for it.
“They can buy a new Fiesta for I think around £10,700. That’s actually a good deal,” he added.
Mr Baggott said new diesel engines were “extremely clean” compared with their older counterparts, so even just upgrading a diesel vehicle would help towards better air quality.
But he said this was a transitional phase: “We need to look to the future, to electric cars, hybrid cars, fuel cell cars. They are what we need to be looking towards.
“I would like to see schemes like this incentivising customers to buy cleaner electric vehicles.”
Peter Campbell, motor industry correspondent for the Financial Times, said greener options were still limited.
“Almost no-one on the market right now has an affordable electric car that can drive a decent range using its batteries before needing recharging.
“These cars are coming and will come in the next five years and all the carmakers have to meet these emission targets that are coming into force in 2021.
“What many people will do is use this to buy smaller cars, and to be fair to Ford, the new cars they’re selling – the new diesels, the new petrol – are orders of magnitude cleaner than the ones bought in 2009.”
This article originally appeared on the BBC website