Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Is diesel dead?

The scrappage scheme has highlighted the benefits of small, cheap petrol engines. We examine the facts behind the predicted demise of diesel.
A vision of the near future? Photo: Connors Brighton

Diesel. Nasty oily stuff or thrifty saviour? Until fairly recently, you might have said that UK buyers were coming around to the second view.
In Europe, diesel's share of the new passenger car market has grown from 25 per cent to more than 50 per cent during the past decade, but in Britain, from a lower base, growth has been even faster during the same period (from 15 per cent to 43 and a bit).
In recent months, though, Britain's love affair with diesel has lost its ardour. The latest registration figures show that January-October sales last year dropped by almost 16 per cent compared with 2008, down from 832,200 to 700,131. As a proportion of the total market, diesel has fallen from 43.3 per cent in 2008 to 41.5 per cent last year.

Small percentages, yes, but big numbers. It's a trend that is also replicated in Europe, where during the past 12 months diesel's overall market share has fallen from about 52 per cent to less than 46 per cent. Even in Belgium, which has Europe's largest diesel penetration, market share has dropped by almost four per cent.
So what has happened? Does this change mark the end of diesel's European conquest? There are several contributing factors to what initially appears to be the demise of diesel. Read more.

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