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Just five per cent of new car buyers now considering a diesel, survey finds

  • Just five per cent of new car buyers tell What Car? they’re considering a diesel
  • Two-thirds of buyers not opting for a diesel confident they won’t ever buy one in the future
  • Used buyers more likely to opt for a diesel, with 21 per cent considering one as their next vehicle

Time 8:07 am, May 18, 2022

The popularity of diesel vehicles has plummeted in recent years with only a handful of new car buyers now looking to buy one, a survey has found.

The damning data, collected by What Car?, found that just five per cent of those in the market would consider a new, factory-order diesel car.

The powertrain fared slightly better among used car buyers, with 21 per cent of those surveyed considering a diesel as their next car.


In total, 89.56 per cent of the 910 motorists who took part in the survey were considering fuel types other than a diesel. Of these, 66.13 per cent were confident they would never buy a diesel car in the future, while 22.94 per cent weren’t sure.

A number of differing reasons were given for the decline, including price and environmental issues.

Of the buyers considering other fuel types, 34.11 per cent said they avoid diesels because they don’t believe they are environmentally friendly enough, while 20.98 per cent said a diesel wouldn’t suit their needs. Another 17.55 per cent said other fuel types are now cheaper to run.

For the minority 10.44 per cent set to buy a diesel car as their next vehicle, half (49.97 per cent) are doing so because they believe diesels are economical to run, while 26.32 per cent are picking a diesel because they like driving them.


However, 28.42 per cent of those buying a diesel told What Car? they suspect the next one might be their last and they’ll move to other vehicle types, while 47.37 per cent said they would continue buying diesels in the future.

The survey found that buyers views continue to be affected by the 2015 ‘Dieselgate’ emissions scandal, with 38.90 per cent saying the situation had made them less likely to consider one.

Steve Huntingford, editor of What Car?, said: ‘Diesel’s rapid decline in sales comes as manufacturers continue to offer fewer models to new car buyers. Vauxhall was the latest manufacturer to drop the diesel option on its best-selling Corsa, with the car now available in petrol or fully electric powertrains only.

‘As new diesel cars continue to decline, this will eventually impact the used market for diesel cars – which are also impacted by the growing number of low emissions zones and other air quality initiatives.’

The What Car? survey comes after the latest, April new car registration figures from the SMMT showed electric cars have outsold diesel models by more than a factor of two so far this year.

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New diesel registrations for the first four months of 2022 account to 30,411 cars, while more than 77,000 new fully electric vehicles have been sold in the same period.

In comparison, last April, more than 62,500 diesel models had been sold, while battery electric vehicle registrations stood at 40,931 for the first four months of 2021.

Less than seven years ago, in 2015, diesel models accounted for 48.5 per cent of the UK’s new car market.

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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