Currently reading: Diesel dominance threatened by EU emissions rules
A dark cloud is hanging over diesel fuel as the EU debates more stringent emissions tests
2 mins read
13 October 2013

The dominance of diesel engines in Europe’s new car market could be over before the end of the decade.

That's according to leading automotive engineers, who say a combination of increasingly stringent emissions regulations and the high cost of new-generation anti-pollution technology will make diesel engines much more expensive.

This, say experts, will be coupled with improvements in petrol engine economy and the high possibility of significant rises in the price of diesel fuel. 

Joe Bakaj, head of product development for Ford of Europe, said the costs of meeting the Euro 6 and expected Euro 7 pollution regulations would be a major problem, as would the possibility of reduced petrol refining capacity in Europe. This would force up the price of diesel, a by-product of the process. He also questioned the longevity of the tax advantages of buying diesel in some EU countries.

“Europe exports a lot of petrol to the US, but if the demand falls, a lot of refining capacity could be taken out of the system, driving up diesel prices,” said Bakaj. “There’s also the cost of exhaust after-treatment systems for the upcoming EU6.1 and EU6.2. The latter has more onerous limits on emissions of NOx and particulates.

“It is much cheaper to get petrol engines through EU6.2; with diesel engines we need technology such as selective catalyst reduction systems, and costs increase again with heavier vehicles.”

Bakaj also said petrol engine technology (“which is two to three years behind diesel”) would narrow the gap with diesel on a cost per mpg basis. 

Klaus Schmidt, director of vehicle engineering for start-up Chinese brand Qoros (and previously head of chassis development at BMW’s M division), said he, too, thought diesel engines would markedly decline in importance by the end of the decade, citing ever more stringent pollution regulations as the cause.

Some 50 per cent of new cars sold in the UK are diesels, well behind the 70 per cent in Spain and France, but not far short of the EU average of 55 per cent. Europe is by far the biggest consumer of diesel-powered cars. As recently as 2010, Japan and the US had only a small, single-digit take-up for diesel cars.


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13 October 2013

Only in Europe would an unelected quango get paid good money (from our taxes) to sit around dreaming up ways to damage our industry.

Now the EU is adding pointless costs (via Euro 6, 7, etc) to what it has already taxed very heavily. This is madness. It is already killing our depressed auto industry via the cult of CO2, having ignored the far more harmful particulate pollution for years.

The notion of the EU acting to improve fuel economy is a complete myth, anyway, as improved economy always leads to lower tax yields, forcing each state to (guess what) increase tax rates...

13 October 2013

I don't hate diesel. I just find it unrefined specially in small cars and contrary to the popular belief it doesn't benefit the motorists who do low miles in small cars.
While diesel manages to slip under petrol in carbon emissions, other harmful emissions like NOX and soot particles are considerably higher - not to mention the NVH.

13 October 2013

Whilst its not fair to categorise diesel as my headline suggests it seems to have enjoyed popularity simply because it gives higher m.p.g. and lower CO² emissions, it seems to me that the E.U. has concentrated on lowering those emissions and largely ignoring the other noxious fumes and particulates in the equation. I agree that it probably has a place in commercial vehicles, like HGVs and so on, but is just too polluting for use in urban ares by large numbers of vehicles.

Personally as a fairly low-annual-mileage motorist I would never buy a diesel car (although I do remember regularly driving a turbo diesel Citroen hatchback in the 1980s that was great fun - it was a ZX Volcane) and have always much preferred petrol cars.

14 October 2013
ordinary bloke wrote:

Personally as a fairly low-annual-mileage motorist I would never buy a diesel car (although I do remember regularly driving a turbo diesel Citroen hatchback in the 1980s that was great fun - it was a ZX Volcane) and have always much preferred petrol cars.

As a lowish mileage motorist, about 8k per annum, i still drive a diesel, my choice due to cheaper VED and 55 mpg from my Civic in every day use.
I used to own a Citroen ZX 1.9d . they were sold in the UK from 1991 till about 1996. My Citroen ZX used to give me 60 mpg whilst commuting and I kept it for 14 years and 248k miles.

13 October 2013

I dont understand why its taking the EU so long to demand diesel engines clean up.

But to change the sales numbers, in the UK at least they need to change the way CoCars are taxed. Petrol and diesel may be split 50/50 in sales, but most private buyers buy petrol, and most CoCars are diesel, and i suspect not because they like them, but because they are mainly bothered about the monthly cost.

I dont like much the EU do, but getting cleaner emissions is a good thing, so why drag their feet?

13 October 2013

EU6 has been a long time coming. I cant wait for diesels to die.

13 October 2013 getting an automotive company's view on diesel engines may just be a tad misleading. These new generation motorbike-like engines are cheap as chips to build compared to diesels and while the automotive companies make a healthy profit on diesels they make MASSIVE profits on the new cheap to build, fuel guzzling, motorbike petrols.

14 October 2013

Yet more waffle from the anti diesel brigade.
So manufactures are going to find it too expensive and difficult to introduce Euro 6?
Then how come some have already put Euro 6 diesels on sale in the UK? Although it will be 01/09/2015 before new registrations law comes into force for Euro 6 .
Those of us that can actually be bothered to read about the facts see that Euro 6 diesel cars are limited by legislation to produce LESS particulates than the direct injection petrol engines now being produced.
Yes diesels produce more NoX but that has been reduced by 50% by Euro 6.
Petrol cars produce far more of the deadly CO, carbon monoxide, gas than diesels. Diesels produce less Co2 due to their better efficiency compared to petrol engines.
As for all the lies about diesel refining production being a by product of refining petrol, well i am amazed at the ignorance shown.
Europe does indeed produce a surplus of petrol in its refineries, that is caused by refining being unprofitable in Europe and hence investing money in modifying refineries to produce a greater proportion of diesel has not happened. Refining in the UK is in decline, most refineries that used to be owned and run by the major oil companies have been sold off or closed.

14 October 2013
Maxecat wrote:

Petrol cars produce far more of the deadly CO, carbon monoxide, gas than diesels.

Give me a single case where CO has been deadly due to the normal use of petrol cars. CO in the atmosphere does little harm, only when in confined unventilated spaces. The amount/concentration of CO released into the atmosphere currently by industry/cars/volcanoes etc is completely harmless.
It does not cause chronic diseases like diesel emissions do.

21 October 2013

This is news that I welcome, and for many reasons.

Firstly, in Europe the legislature has had a preoccupation with CO2 emissions, and though important, they are just one part of the harmful emissions that come from vehicles. It is true that petrol engines have produced more CO2 and CO emissions than their equivalent diesel, but this has ignored the fact that Diesel engines produce far more NOx and heavy particulate emissions. It is these emissions that are far more harmful to human health and are a significant contributory factor in lung related problems such as lung cancer and also can lead to cardiovascular problems.

These problems are made much more acute in city centres where these heavy particulates are trapped by high buildings and where there are more people to breath in the harmful emissions.

Manufacturers have taken steps to lessen the impact of these emissions, but in many cases this has resulted in modern Diesel engines being so complex that they are a liability once out of warranty.

I used to work in the motor trade and I have seen many people frustrated by their diesel powered car (which they purchased in the belief that it would reduce their motoring costs), being 'hit' by yet another big bill because of failures such as DPF, EGR valve, injectors or even complete engine failure due to failed regeneration. These failures were across a range of brands and could quite often amount the several thousands of pounds a year in repairs to keep their slightly more efficient car on the road. The irony was that the petrol equivalent cars, being that petrol is a much 'cleaner' fuel and burn process, did not suffer these problems and would have actually cost these much less to run.

As a driving enthusiast I am also keen to see a return to smooth petrol cars and ideally, multi-cylinder engines. Diesel engines do have a place for high mileage users and as a way of getting reasonably acceptable MPG out of a 2000KG+ 4x4. However, the majority of cars would be much more pleasant with a well designed petrol unit under the bonnet. Though diesels are still more fuel efficient, manufacturers have made big strides with CO2 emissions on petrols; the fact that Mercedes and BMW can now produce 300BHP petrol sixes that produce fewer CO2 emissions than the average Diesel engine of just 5 years ago illustrates that diesels are loosing their USP in this area.

Finally I think our streets would sound much more pleasant if we had fewer diesels on the road. Yes diesels are now refined if you are on the inside of the car, but the typical 4 cylinder diesel still makes a racket if you are unfortunate enough to be on the outside. Both the VAG and BMW 4 cylinders are gruff sounding things and the 2.2 engine in the Jaguar XF is quite noisy and does not sound like a Jaguar should. The 6 cylinders are generally better, but only because they don't really make much noise at all (other than the whistle of turbos). The petrol sixes from Jaguar and BMW make much more interesting noises, but unfortunately they are too rare (in the UK) for many people to have experienced them.


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