Posted by: Jerry Garrett | October 13, 2016

2016: Diesel’s Very, Very Bad Year


Why Paris hates diesels


Woes for diesels continue, as I have been chronicling in reports from this year’s Paris Motor Show, where electric cars stole the spotlight.

Today, more bad news for the troubled diesel powerplant: Market share for diesel-engine cars sold in Western Europe is likely to dip below 50 percent for the first time in many years.

In September, the share of diesel-powered cars sold in Western Europe dropped to 47.9 percent of the market, its lowest level in years, according to research from auto analyst LMC Automotive. As recently as November 2012, diesel held a market share of over 57 percent. (Percentage-wise, that’s a drop of about 16 percent.)

The steady decline, which sharply accelerated in August, leads to a projection of diesel sales for the 2016 calendar year below 50 percent of the market. “The first time for many years that diesel share will account for less than one half of all car sales in the region,” LMC concluded.

The market for diesel, the analyst reported, is eroding from the bottom up. Since 2011, the small car “A” and “B” segments combined have lost one-third of its diesel-powered sales. Mid-size sales are also declining, although not at as great a rate, LMC said, although large car and SUV sales are holding somewhat steady.

Another analyst Bertel Schmitt said the overall trend is worrisome: “The diesel take rate is down hard in core EU markets Benelux, Spain, Germany.” Increases were noted only in Denmark and Italy, albeit only slight ones.

Let’s recap briefly: Why is diesel falling out of favor?

– Diesel engine emissions are inherently dirtier than gasoline engine emissions. Diesel fuel leaves a sooty residue after it is burned. Also smells bad. Big “ick” factor.

– “Clean diesel”claims made by automakers for their latest generation of diesel engines are proving to be wildly exaggerated, if not totally false. Volkswagen had to admit its diesels, for instance, were made “clean” only by cheating on emissions tests. “Clean diesel” is about as clean as “clean coal”.

– Dirty air is becoming a plague in Europe, especially in the big cities, like Paris. The CO2 emissions from diesel engines are considered a leading cause of air pollution. Paris has banned diesels registered prior to 1997, as the first step toward all diesels being banned in the city in the next few years. Other big cities are considering following Paris.

– A potential diesel ban, of course, is a big turn-off for anyone considering buying one.

– Pain coming at the pump? Diesel fuel is cheaper in Europe, thanks to subsidies governments have given – in the now discredited belief that diesel’s better fuel economy was an acceptable trade-off for dirtier emissions. Expect those subsidies to be discontinued.

– Diesel engines are usually costly options that add to the sticker price.

Okay, reviewing here: Diesels cost more, cheap diesel fuel is likely going away, diesels are blamed for air pollution, and diesel cars may face bans in the near future – which would crush resale values.

So, if there’s a real possibility you might not be able to sell your used diesel, why would you want to buy one?

(If you still aren’t clear about the answer, read this story again from the top!)

Jerry Garrett

October 13, 2016






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