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Why Diesel Sales Are Falling

  • by: Conor McKeon
  • On: 17, Apr 2019
2 min read

Diesel sales around the world are falling at an unprecedented rate. The fuel source is steadily being phased out in favour of greener alternatives. Electric vehicles are changing the game for the automotive industry, leaving other, older fuels behind. Diesel emissions have been classified by the World Health Organisation as a carcinogenic, and the UK suffered over 10,000 premature deaths due to NO2 pollution, which comes from diesel.

Why Diesel Is Falling In The UK:

Car sales in the UK fell by around 7% during 2018, most likely caused by Brexit uncertainty and growing concerns about pollution. January of 2019 was the 21st month of consecutive decline in the market, and falling diesel sales have contributed to this massive drop.

Diesel manufacturers are now selling between 30-40% fewer models than they were at the peak of the market years ago. Diesel models now make up less than a third of the market, and sales were down 20% when comparing 2018 to 2019. Demand is down 30%, and a quarter of consumers in the UK are outright rejecting diesel cars as an option. It’s a similar story across Europe, with the number of diesel cars being purchased at the lowest level since 2001. This has prompted some manufacturers to pledge to discontinue their diesel models altogether. Some brands, like, Porsche, have already done so.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has gone on to predict a similar 2019, even without a hard Brexit. The UK Government has pledged to match EU emissions targets regardless of the Brexit outcome, meaning manufacturers will have to cut CO2 emissions from their vehicles down to 95gm/km by 2021. In all likelihood diesel and petrol cars will be phased out by 2040, as the planet endeavours to lower its total carbon emissions. However, this will take place over years as a slow shift, rather than an overnight flip from one fuel source to another.

The Problems with Diesel:

Diesel is an inherently dangerous fuel source. While it emits less CO2 than petrol when burnt, it does emit higher levels of Nitrate Oxides, which are linked to creating or exacerbating breathing difficulties. However, the public perception of diesel is that is a dirty fuel (which it is), and that it existing and incoming legislation will make diesel engines less attractive to buy.

This is already being seen in London, where the new Ultra Low Emissions Zone will charge any vehicles that don’t meet the standard will have to pay £12.50 a day, on top of this existing congestion charge.

Electric vehicles currently only make up about 1% of the market in the UK, but this number is on the rise all the time. Demand for electric vehicles is up 26%, with more investment and infrastructure making it more viable and affordable for people to make the switch. It’s predicted that over 80,000 hybrid or electric vehicles will be sold this year.

This is a step in the right direction for the planet, and the people who live on it.

Read about the last hundred years of car design, or find out how strong the UK automotive market really is.

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