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Demand for diesels set to drop sharply after ‘public battering’

Time 4 years ago

THE popularity of diesels, which currently make up around 40 per cent of cars on UK roads, is set to drop sharply as just 23 per cent of motorists plan to buy diesel next time, Autocar research has revealed.

Petrol is set to dominate the market with 60 per cent of buyers predicted to opt for unleaded – while more than a sixth are set to swap from a diesel to a hybrid or electric car at their next purchase.

Those are just some of the statistics uncovered by an Autocar survey, which highlights motorists’ fears over emissions and pollution in the wake of headline-grabbing scandals such as Volkswagen Dieselgate and rising penalties for older diesels entering major cities.


More than 1,000 motorists were polled by leading advisors Simpson Carpenter on behalf of Autocar, and of those surveyed, 38 per cent were diesel owners, with 60 per cent owning a petrol car and 17 per cent owning a hybrid or electric vehicle.

Of the current diesel owners, more than half plan to defect to a petrol or a hybrid/electric vehicle. That’s in stark contrast to petrol owners, 78 per cent of whom said they would stick with their current fuel choice.

There is now a growing acceptance of alternatively-fuelled cars, with 17 per cent of buyers indicating their next car would be hybrid or electric and 22 per cent of diesel owners suggesting they will switch to an EV.

Pollution and emissions

Buyers also predicted that across the new and used car markets, sales of alternatively-fuelled vehicles will come at the expense of diesel, not petrol.


These findings are already being backed up by figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) which showed that diesel registrations in May this year fell 20 per cent year-on-year.

A total of 81,489 diesels were registered in the month, compared with more than 101,000 in May 2016.

The overwhelming reason given for not buying a diesel was fears over pollution and emissions.

Autocar editor Mark Tisshaw said: ‘These findings are a testament to the public battering diesel has taken over the last few years. We’ve already seen figures showing a diesel sales slowdown but what is clear from this survey is that there will be a major shift towards petrol, hybrid and electric cars.

‘Diesels have done a great job in reducing CO2. Figures from the SMMT indicate that CO2 emissions are over 30 per cent lower than in 2000. Particulates and NOx, while justifiably a hot topic, have been dramatically reduced in modern diesels.

‘Sadly, scandals like Volkswagen Dieselgate have eroded public faith and, despite upcoming real-world, impartial testing programmes, it is difficult to see the situation changing.’

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Dave Brown's avatar

Dave, production editor on Car Dealer Magazine, is a journalist with more than 30 years' experience in the worlds of newspapers, magazines and public relations.

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