Motors

Demise of diesel means more petrol, hybrid and electric cars

The diesel pump is going to become much less popular, a new report claims

DEMAND for diesel-engined cars is about to go into reverse, a new report claims.

Diesel has been coming under increasing pressure in the wake of the Volkswagen emissions cheating debacle, a range of environmental concerns and the threat of taxes targeting diesel cars. Petrol engines have substantially improved in recent years, and in May diesel registrations were down by 20 per cent compared to the same month in 2016.

Research by Autocar magazine says that just 23 per cent of motorists will buy a diesel next time they are changing their car, with 60 per cent opting for petrol.

Hybrid and electric cars are set to make up the remaining 17 per cent of the market.

More than 1,000 motorists were polled by leading advisors Simpson Carpenter on behalf of Autocar, and of those surveyed, 38 per cent were current diesel owners, with 60 per cent owning a petrol car and 17 per cent owning a hybrid or electric vehicle.

Of the current diesel owners, over half plan to defect to a petrol or a hybrid/electric vehicle. Meanwhile, 78 per cent of current petrol owners said they would stick with unleaded.

The overwhelming reason given for not buying a diesel was fears over pollution and emissions, with 73 per cent saying that would put them off.

Uncertainty over what a diesel car might be worth in future was the second biggest headache, with 41 per cent of those surveyed saying they were concerned about residual values.

Perception of diesel as a fuel that is detrimental to air quality has also made it into public consciousness, according to the Autocar study.

Diesel is seen as more harmful to the environment than petrol (65 per cent to 17 per cent), as emitting the most CO2 (by 54 per cent to 28 per cent) - despite the fact that diesel has played a huge role in reducing vehicle CO2 since 2000 - and the most NOx and particulates (by 63 per cent to 19 per cent).

Motorists even perceive the latest Euro 6-compliant diesels as being generally more polluting than their petrol-engined equivalents.

"These findings are a testament to the public battering diesel has taken over the last few years," said Autocar editor Mark Tisshaw.

"We’ve already seen figures showing a diesel sales slowdown but what is clear from this survey is that there will be a major shift towards petrol, hybrid and electric cars.

"While some vilification of diesel is justified, there is a major gulf between the perception and the reality.

"It is concerning that the majority of buyers now believe diesel is a wholly dirty fuel, pumping out the most CO2 and NOx into the atmosphere. The reality of modern Euro 6 diesels is very different.

"Diesels have done a great job in reducing CO2. Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders indicate that CO2 emissions are over 30 per cent lower than in 2000.

"Particulates and NOx, while justifiably a hot topic, have been dramatically reduced in modern diesels.

"Sadly, scandals like Volkswagen 'dieselgate' have eroded public faith and, despite upcoming real world, impartial testing programmes such as the Worldwide harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure designed to restore conviction, it is difficult to see the situation changing."

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