What next for diesel?

Posted by Alex Knight on 02-May-2019 09:55:00
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There’s no doubt diesel has taken a hit. From Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal to clean air proposals from leading cities, diesel’s reputation has taken a kicking.

The evidence can be found in new car registrations with latest statistics from the UK’s Society of Manufacturers and Motor Traders (SMMT)  showing a year-to-date decline of 18.3% compared to gains by petrol of 7.6%. Market share in the UK is also down for diesel at 29.3% in 2019 compared to 35.6% in 2018. Meanwhile petrol has gained market share from 59.4% in 2018 to 64.3% in 2019. Market share for alternatively fuelled vehicles or AFVs has gained but still accounts for just 6.4%.

Throughout Europe, diesel is proving less attractive to buyers. According to stats from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) more than half of all new passenger cars registered in the EU in 2018 were fuelled by petrol (56.7%), an increase over 2017 when the ratio was nearer half at 50.3%. Diesel accounted for 35.9% of new registrations with 2.0% being electrically-chargeable vehicles (ECVs) (you can also link this to the Europe sales figures story). By the fourth quarter of 2018, diesel’s share of the market fell from 41.2% to 34.1%.


Whilst it stands to reason that with fewer diesel vehicles sold new, this will eventually trickle down to the used car market, diesels continue to perform well. According to one UK remarketing company Aston Barclay, used petrol and diesel prices finished 2018 on a record high.

The Aston Barclay Insights Report found average prices of diesel and petrol vehicles in the used car market rose to a record high in Q4 2018.  Stimulated as a result of the new car shortage following the introduction of the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) in September 2018, the used vehicle sector reaped the benefits.

Average prices for diesel and petrol vehicles reached a high of £8,818 and £4,651 respectively during Q4, a rise of £67 and £326 respectively over Q3, according to Aston Barclay’s figures. Overall, the Aston Barclay report found average used prices across all stock categories rose year-on-year with older stock commanding good prices. Aston Barclay’s group managing director Martin Potter predicted a positive outlook for the used vehicle market this year despite the challenges of Brexit.

In a recent article Car Magazine, aimed at consumers, provided car buyers with insights on whether considering diesel still made sense pointing out that cars meeting Euro 6 emissions and the even tougher new Euro 7 regulations, are impressively clean.

Fossil fuelled cars, the magazine argues, are likely to be around for some time despite pledges from the government that internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, both petrol and diesel, will be phased out by 2040. In fact, for high mileage (20k+) motorway drivers, diesel will continue to make sense financially simply on account of its better mpg. Diesel drivers meeting Euro 6 regulations won’t even find themselves having to fork out for the extra payment when London’s ultra low emission zone comes into force on 8th April.


With 13.8 million diesel vehicles on UK roads – lorries, vans and cars, and as Car Magazine states, diesel is not going anywhere soon. Although diesel will continue to experience drops in market share, the magazine predicts the arrival of Euro 7 and, eventually even Euro 8, will lead to even cleaner diesel powered cars.

All in all it means drivers can be confident they will be able to continue to drive diesel for years to come.

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Topics: automotive, consumers, engagement,, petrol, diesel, emissions

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