Europeans dump their diesel cars
Sales of diesel powered cars are declining fast throughout the European Union. This could cause problems for the European Union in reaching the climate goals it outlined.
In 2021, new cars are only allowed to emit 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre, according to the rules the European Union defined in its climate goals. “At this moment, the average is 115 grams. Diesel vehicles perform better in this field, so it really poses the question if we can realistically reach that target with diesel sales reclining”, warns Michel Martens at Belgian automobile federation FEBIAC.
“Sales drop will continue”
Statistics show clearly that diesel sales are falling back quickly throughout the European market. “Faster than anyone could have expected, and I think this tendency will continue for time to come”, Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said in an earlier interview.
In 2006, diesel cars accounted for more than half of the registered new cars, last year it was less than half. In Spain and France, diesel sales dropped more than 5 percent last year. Only Italy and Denmark saw a rise in diesel sales.
Less interesting financially
In Belgium, almost 60 percent of new vehicles carried a diesel engine in 2015, last year that was 52 percent. Only the Netherlands and Greece saw a steeper decline. Popularity of diesel vehicles among leasing companies keeps diesel in the picture in Belgium. Three out of five leasing cars have a diesel engine, in private sales, this is only one out of five.
Reasons for the drop in sales are multiple: more cities ban diesels from their town centres for health reasons, as diesel engines cause more air pollution and cancer. There are less subsidies for diesels and the gap with fuel prices for petrol is being closed, making diesel financially less interesting. “And of course Dieselgate accelerated things. Even though I think diesel sales will stabilize around 40 to 50 percent”, says Martens.
New fuel consumption tests
He points out that this will make it more difficult for the European Union to achieve its climate goals for new passenger cars. Diesel cars score better in fuel consumption tests than petrol powered vehicles. Even with the new, more stringent tests that are rolled out in September, it is probable that diesel will score better than petrol. This may lead to renewed popularity for diesels, according to Martens. He readily admits that the real breakthrough however, will come from electric cars. “It is not a question of if they break through, but when.”