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Is Europe turning its back on diesel?

The Volkswagen Golf reclaimed top spot in Europe's sales chart in April

DIESEL registrations in Europe slumped by 15 per cent last month, offering evidence that new car buyers are falling out of love with the fuel, writes William Scholes.

The drop in demand for diesel came as the overall European market fell by 7.1 per cent in April compared to the same month in 2016.

Of the 1.22 million cars registered in Europe last month, 46 per cent were diesel; 12 months earlier, diesel accounted for 50 per cent of the market.

Four of Europe's largest markets saw registrations fall with the fifth, Spain, growing by only 0.8 per cent.

In Italy registrations dropped by almost a quarter and in the UK they were down almost a fifth.

The Republic's market fell by 24.2 per cent compared to April 2016, and is down by 10.1 per cent in the year-to-date compared to the same period last year. A total of 7,865 cars were registered in the Republic in April.

The family hatchback category, which includes cars like the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus, fell by 12 per cent, and the small car class - vehicles like the Citroen C3 and Ford Fiesta - shrunk by 9 per cent.

And despite recent new models from Volkswagen and Renault, MPV registrations collapsed by 21.3 per cent.

The SUV and crossover class, however, continued its irresistible rise, growing by 7 per cent. It meant that in April, cars like the Renault Kadjar and Peugeot 3008 accounted for almost 28 per cent of the whole European market.

Peugeot's new 3008 is among the SUVs and crossovers which now account for almost 30 per cent of new car registrations in Europe

The Volkswagen Golf, which is being launched in facelifted guise across Europe, reclaimed the top spot as Europe's most popular car, beating the Renault Clio and Volkswagen Polo.

Felipe Munoz from industry analyst Jato Dynamics, which compiles the European registration figures, said the emissions cheating scandal which engulfed Volkswagen was the start of diesel's fall in popularity.

"Diesel has lost its dominance in the Euopean car market," he said.

"While there are several reasons for this shift, all evidence points to the 'dieselgate' scandal as the start of this decline.

"Since the scandal, which broke in 2015, the fuel type has suffered major setbacks to its reputation as governments consider new legislation that directly affect diesel car owners - such as plans in the UK for a diesel scrappage scheme.

"In tandem with this, the media continues to advise consumers to avoid the fuel type wherever possible.

"When factoring in the ongoing push for electric/hybrid vehicles, which are particularly prevelant in markets like the UK, it is perhaps no surprise to see this decline in performance from diesel."

The evergreen Polo continues to sell well for Volkswagen

Europe's favourite cars in April 2017





Volkswagen Golf



Renault Clio



Volkswagen Polo



Volkswagen Tiguan



Peugeot 208



Vauxhall Astra



Vauxhall Corsa



Ford Fiesta



Citroen C3



Skoda Octavia


Source: Jato Dynamics


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