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Consequences of a falling diesel share – rising CO2 levels? 
Matthias Schmidt | Trend Analyst

Published: Fri, 17th March 2017 14:10:01 GMT

Plug-in and falling diesle sales

Open quote signAlthough environmentalists like to read the news these days, with diesel car sales shares falling in near synchronised fashion across the vast majority of West European car markets, it is worth taking a brief look at Germany’s February KBA passenger car sales data. With February’s sales share of efficient diesel engines falling to a new recent low of just 43.4 per cent, Germany’s CO2 emissions from cars rose during the same month. That’s a 0.2 per cent rise to 127.7g/km according to KBA data. That’s in spite of a near doubling in February’s BEV electric car sales and a recent record month for hybrid car registrations.

To avoid potentially crippling financial fines Europe’s carmakers must comply with the EU’s average CO2 emissions of 95g/km by 2021.

France which has seen some of the strongest leaks in its once proud diesel ship is also starting to see slowing CO2 emissions reductions.

CO2 car emissions in France rose

In fact, this January average CO2 car emissions in France rose 0.5 per cent to 110.26g/km, according to CCFA/AAA data.

During the same month last year the drop in average CO2 car emissions was just over 3 per cent.

In retrospect, starting in the late 1990s, after breaching the 25 per cent sales share level in 1999, diesel car demand in Western Europe went through the roof.

1,000km plus on a full tank of fuel

With the promise of superior fuel efficiency and the real world experience of driving 1,000km plus on a full tank of fuel, more than half of Europe’s new car buyers already filled up their newly purchased cars with the ‘black stuff’.

That’s despite an average 12 per cent price premium for a new diesel powered car over a similarly powered petrol derivative in the Upper-Medium Passat sector, for example.

With the previously unthinkable happening and the likes of Porsche offering enjoyable powerful, high torque diesel models, the taboo of owning a diesel finally appeared to be broken.

Last year in Porsche’s domestic German market, its diesel share was over one third according to KBA data.

Porsche's West European diesel mix around 40%

In Western Europe the share was even higher just failing to breach the 40 per cent mark according to AID data.

Put another way, only every fourth Cayenne model sold across the region last year wasn’t diesel powered, the other three in four were diesels.

The humble diesel engine, for long a favourite on European roads, commanding more than a 50 per cent share of the market for the past decade - with the exception of 2009’s car scrappage influenced year - has slowly been on the decline since reaching a peak market share of 55.5 percent in 2011.

The consequence?

As already illustrated by today’s German and French car market: average CO2 emissions from cars may actually rise.

Whilst VW Group’s CEO Matthias Müller and Daimler’s Dieter Zetsche are both backing diesel engines for at least the next two decades, in light of recent European car buying trends, the likelihood now is that the 95g/km 2021 average CO2 levels from cars might not be met.

Gentleman, it’s high time to work collectively on a diesel re-branding strategy
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