Old Hat: European Sale of Diesel Cars Overtaken by Gasoline for the First Time Since 2009

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
old hat european sale of diesel cars overtaken by gasoline for the first time since

Diesel-powered passenger vehicle sales have fallen in Europe. Data from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) showed diesel’s year-over-year market share plummeting in the first half of 2017, sinking from 50.2 percent to 46.3 percent of all new car registrations in the EU.

Helped by negative publicity and governmental intervention, it’s the first time diesels have dipped below the 50 percent mark since 2009. ACEA’s figures indicate 152,323 fewer diesel cars sold so far in 2017, attributing some of the decline to a renewed interest in gasoline-powered vehicles. Of course, if you aren’t buying diesel, you don’t have a lot of other options.

Still, deliveries of “alternative” vehicles — which include hybrid, electric, and natural gas-powered automobiles — also rose by more than 35 percent. Those categories now account for 5.2 percent of Europe’s total auto sales.

It’s not terribly surprising. With most German automakers involved in some kind of of diesel emissions investigation over the last few years, the fuel’s image has taken a major PR hit. Meanwhile, electrically-driven cars have been praised as the green solution we’ve all been waiting for.

Hoping to encourage the change, much of Europe has implemented tax breaks for EV adopters. While this is also a common practice in North America, some European countries are taking things a step further with proposed timelines that would essentially ban all sales of internal combustion vehicles by 2040.

France has also been attempting to strip longstanding incentives from diesel sales and Paris has a plan to prohibit diesel-powered cars from entering the city by 2025. Other cities have proposed similar solutions to air quality issues in urban areas.

Despite its large population, Germany is one of the few countries dragging its feet. While its government has proposed similar bans, support for those initiatives remains limited — possibly because of the country’s strong connection to the automotive industry.

While the European shift away from diesels is likely to to reduce soot and NOx emissions from its atmosphere, ACEA warned that more gasoline engines could make it difficult for the region to meet CO2 reduction targets. “Policy makers need to be aware that a sudden shift from diesel technology to petrol will lead to an increase in CO2 emissions, given that the market penetration of alternative powertrains remains low,” explained ACEA secretary general Erik Jonnaert.

“Alternative powertrains will undoubtedly play an increasing role in the transport mix, and all European manufacturers are investing heavily in them,” Jonnaert said in a statement. “To this end, more needs to be done to encourage consumers to buy alternatively-powered vehicles, for instance by putting in place the right incentives and deploying recharging infrastructure across the EU.”

“In the meantime, however, as diesel cars emit significantly less CO2 than equivalent petrol-powered vehicles, they will have to be part of the gradual transition to low-carbon vehicles, acting as a ‘bridge’ technology.

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6 of 7 comments
  • Heino Heino on Oct 02, 2017

    The Germans are really worried about the likes of Tesla, and they are also are getting flak from the environmentalists for said foot dragging. Prost!

  • DenverMike DenverMike on Oct 02, 2017

    I'm not gonna tell Europe what to do or anything but their extremely high "fuel tax" still heavily subsidizes sales of new diesel autos. There's no real need to ban diesels. Diesel autos aren't the rational choice, all things equal, for everyday passenger cars anyway. And it's not like F-series would dominate the Euro landscape with US type fuel prices/taxes or anything. But it'd be hilarious if they did.

    • See 3 previous
    • DenverMike DenverMike on Oct 03, 2017

      @Vega What's their average "liters to km" or "performance" once they're banned in Europe?? That doesn't sound very fast/efficient to me... Or when "cheater" diesels are actually forced into actual legit "compliance"??? Either way, European policy makers have blood on their hands. It's catastrophe that didn't have to happen. All they had to do is follow the US EPA model or something similar. Nope they had to set the rules 100% different, the easiest/simplest route, and most revenue generating. How's that worked out for them?

  • Alan GM is still dying. The US auto manufacturing sector overall needs to restructure. It is heavily reliant on large protected vehicles with far more protection than the EU has on its vehicles (25% import tariff).Globally GM has lost out in the EU, UK, Australia, etc. GM has shut down in Australia because it is uncompetitive in a global market. Ford still exists in Australia but is reliant on a Thai manufactured pickup, the Ranger which is Australia's second largest selling vehicle.The US needs to look at producing global products, not 'murica only products. Asians and Europeans can do it. America is not unique.
  • Duane Baldinger Ya my cupcake Mailman will love it!
  • Duane Baldinger Where can I send the cash? It's a surprise BDAY present for my cupcake Mailman. D Duane
  • Art Vandelay Pour one out for the Motors Liquidation Corporation
  • Bill Wade Norm, while true I'll leave you with this. My 2023 RAM is running Android 8 released in 2017.My wife's navigation on her GM truck is a 2021 release, I believe the latest. Android Auto seems to update very week or two. Now, which would you rather have? Anybody with a car a couple of years old NEVER sees any updates. Heck, if your TV is a few years old it's dead on updates. At least cell phones are rapidly updated. If your old phone won't update, buy another $200 phone. If your GM vehicle doesn't update do what, buy another $50,000 GM vehicle?