Despite global pressure to limit the sales of diesel-powered vehicles, and coupled to the clean air cuts and in some cases with city burning restrictions, some segment sales for have shown close to 20% increases in the years between 2015 to 2018. So, the trend to abandon the powertrain coupled to the VW emissions cheating scandal, did not cause the dramatic decline in diesel demand as envisaged reckons market researcher, Jato Dynamics – and this is according to data received these past four years.
While it is true, however, that diesel did suffer lesser sales in a big way to the value of some 45% in the compact vehicle segment of the overall market on new vehicle sales, where petrol powered units wiped out almost 600 000 diesel sales in Europe alone and with diesel’s steep decline continuing with rising fuel costs and a trend to buy smaller cars.
The SUV trend did, however, in many ways keep diesel engines in the picture frame, so to speak. With buoyant sales of units from Fiat, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz all doing well in the showroom end of business, with over 200 000 sales across Europe in the premium sector of SUV cars alone, other sectors of large premium and compact premium vehicles also accounted for over half a million vehicle registrations and the diesel powertrain for many of these units remains the frugal economy of diesel power. It is a logical development to see that diesel power has a future and will linger on in the larger vehicle segments where its benefits are still tangible.
This, plus automakers still produce these cars with a major profit level in this booming area of the market. Automakers have fought long and hard at clean air legislation that penalises diesel, so with some manufacturers increasing their line ups, but the increasing push for electrification and hybrid technology has pushed a shift away. Now Toyota in its new RAV4 compact SUV along with the Honda CRV which is in a same segment, are offering petrol electric hybrids instead of diesel power and further developments of Nissan’s popular Qashqai will drop their diesel unit in favour of E-power brands.
The most relevant question now, however, is what will happen in the future of the concentrated petrol-powered engine, say, Citroen who have seen 30% of their sales remain in the diesel powertrain segment in recent years but are now looking at a flat sales projection for 2020. VW still remains the largest diesel producers with their 1.6 Tdi. BMW have also announced a cease in production for their three-cylinder 1.5 litre motor. That said, there is still room for action for diesel in the core market SUV segment for BMW believe that their four cylinder and six-cylinder units will remain in production for at least another two decades.