In the UK, registrations of diesel vehicles fell by 30% in 2018 and by a fifth in the first half of 2019. As the auto industry ushers in a new age of eco-consciousness and electrification, consumers are quickly ditching diesel cars, which until recently were considered a good option to reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emissions.
In the mid-2000s, diesel vehicle sales increased dramatically in the UK. In 2007, 19% of cars sold were diesel. By 2011, 56% of all vehicles sold were diesel. Then in 2015, Dieselgate exploded. In September, the EPA issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to Volkswagen after discovering that they had deliberately programmed turbocharged direct injection diesel engines to engage emissions controls only during testing, which allowed the cars to meet standards during regulatory testing. These same cars would later emit up to 40 times on the road. Globally, eleven million cars had deployed this software.
As a result of the scandal, diesel fell out of favor and the electric car industry took off. Market share of diesel is currently 26.4% and with all certainty that won’t improve. It isn’t only the bad publicity that is damaging diesel’s reputation. Price is also a factor. Nowadays, diesel costs around 10p more per liter at the pump and in April, London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone began charging diesel vehicles that don’t meet Euro 6 regulations an extra £12.50 a day.
Despite the fact that diesel is still more energy-efficient than petrol and that modern diesel engines are remarkably clean, even trapping and treating exhaust to reduce contamination, internal combustion engines are living on borrowed time. The UK has pledged to phase out internal combustion engines by 2040.
Despite the dire projections, diesel is still expected to be around for a while. There are currently 13.8 million diesel cars, vans and trucks registered in the UK, therefore the fuel won’t disappear overnight. However, for those purchasing a new car, selecting a diesel option may be a risky proposition as governments continue to tighten emissions standards. It may also limit one’s options since many automakers are turning their back on the fuel. As Porsche chief executive Oliver Blume has said, “There will be no more diesels from Porsche in the future.”
Finally, for those who presently own a diesel car, there’s no need to worry since the fuel will be around for years, yet it might be smart to start weighing one’s options when considering a trade or a new car.