Is the drive to reduce CO2 emissions expanding the market for ‘clean diesels’?

We look at how CO2 reduction targets are leading manufacturers to reconsider diesel


Although diesel registrations continue to decline due to the intensifying shift towards battery electric and alternatively fuelled vehicles, and negative perceptions from ‘dieselgate’ persist, ambitious EU CO2 reduction targets mean some manufacturers are looking at the future of diesel within their model ranges.

Overall, the reduction in diesel sales has been offset by an increase in demand for petrol vehicles.  However, because petrol engines produce higher CO2 emissions than their diesel countetrparts, the collective CO2 produced by new vehicles is now increasing.  Data from the European Evironment Agency (EEA) confirms this, showing that CO2  emissions from cars sold across the EU rose for the second year running in 2018, which was up 1.8% on 2017.  As a result, tough EU industry targets that demand a -5.9% annual CO2 reduction to meet the 2021 limit of 95g/km, look increasingly challenging.

Supporting dealers at this time of technological change and industry transformation is important for third-party brands in the showroom such as LifeShine.

The EEA also reports that 2018 was the second year when petrol cars were the most sold fuel type, expanding its market share whilst sales of diesels slowed further.  In the UK, the decline in new diesel sales is particularly acute, with SMMT registration figures showing a -17.1% drop as confusion over government policy regarding the taxation of hybrid and plug-in cars causes buyers to hold back.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, explains: “The anti-diesel agenda has set back progress on climate change, while electric vehicle demand remains disappointingly low amid consumer concerns around charging infrastructure availability and affordability. To accelerate fleet renewal, motorists must have the confidence to invest in the cleanest cars for their needs, however they are powered.”

Commenting on the correlation between diesel versus petrol sales and CO2 emissions, Eric Jonnaert, Secratery General of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), said: “Although the gap between average CO2 emissions from diesel and petrol cars is narrowing, it is still significant, especially as almost one million more petrol cars were sold last year compared to 2017.”

In the short term,  low CO2 emissions from diesels still have a role on helping manufacturers meet reduction targets as ACEA’s Erik Jonnaert concludes: “Amidst the strong push for alternatively-powered vehicles, we should not write off the latest generation of diesel cars, which not only emit less CO2 than their petrol counterparts, but also deliver low on-road pollutant emissions in practice.”

The prospect of punitive fines for not reaching the 2020/2021 EU CO2 reduction targets and further reductions set to be imposed in 2025 and 2030 is a serious concern to car makers already committed to reducing both pollutant and CO2 emissions from vehicles and improving the sector’s environmental impact.  New technologies have helped to cut CO2 emissions by over a third since 2000 and emissions of particulates (PMs) nitrogen oxides (NOx) and other pollutants have either been all but eliminated or reduced significantly.  Under the latest Euro 6 standards, the NOx emissions of a petrol and diesel car are at their lowest ever levels, 60mg/km for petrol and 80mg/km for diesel.  In comparison, the limits for the previous Euro 5 diesel standards were 180mg/km.

Audi provides an interesting example of a manufacturer pushing the boundaries of clean diesel technology though the recent introduction of the brand’s new V6 diesel engine. With the ability to deliver 347bhp and maximum torque of 700Nm and combined CO2 emissions of 164-163g/km, the new 3.0 TDI clearly intends to make a compelling proposition for European buyers who will only be offered a diesel ‘S’ model, representing a unique move for Audi in the segment.

Supporting dealers at this time of technological change and industry transformation is important for third-party brands in the showroom such as LifeShine from Autoglym.  As a leader in car care for over 50 years, Autoglym works with motor retailers across a range of brands, helping them secure incremental business through the LifeShine Vehicle Protection System by harnessing of the strength of the Autoglym brand.

To discover how LifeShine can benefit your dealership, get in touch.


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