Suzuki has become the latest car maker to drop all diesel models from its line-up as sales for black-pump cars continue to dwindle.
Last month, diesel sales in Britain fell by 37% compared with March 2017, meaning its decline is shrinking at more than twice the rate of the wider new car market.
Suzuki offered only one diesel engine, the Fiat-built 1.6-litre DDiS, with just two models – the Vitara and SX4 S-Cross. Diesel has long accounted for a small portion of Suzuki’s UK sales, but it now represents just 3% of the company's UK demand. A Suzuki spokesman said this tiny portion encouraged the brand to remove diesel options from sale.
"Due to very low demand for diesel engine models in the UK Suzuki range, the DDiS derivatives of Vitara and SX4 S-Cross for UK only have temporarily ceased production," the spokesman said. "This is due to much higher demand for the Boosterjet petrol models and the real-world fuel consumption that they attain. Diesel engine models will be available from existing stock only."
The spokesman added that diesel models will remain on sale in the Republic of Ireland, where "demand is much stronger".
Just over 1000 units of the diesel Vitara and SX4 S-Cross were sold in the UK last year, when the brand shifted 40,000 units in total in Britain. For this reason, although Suzuki has left the door open for a potential return for diesel in the future, it appears unlikely.
The timing of Suzuki’s move suggests it could be linked to upcoming stricter emissions tests, which have been linked to production halts for the Audi SQ5 and BMW M3. However, Suzuki's spokesman told Autocar that the change was purely demand-related: “Our diesel engine was Euro 6 compliant so it’s nothing to do with emissions.”
This is the same explanation provided by Porsche when it dropped the last diesel models it sold, the Macan S Diesel and Panamera 4S Diesel, in February in response to the “cultural shift” of customers.
That said, Porsche will add a diesel option to the latest Cayenne next year, while Suzuki looks set to only offer petrol and mild hybrid models in Britain.
Suzuki has also stopped production of the Jimny, with only existing stocks – amounting to fewer than 200 cars – remaining. The spokesman told Autocar that the model has been removed to make way for its successor, which is due on roads in early 2019.
The next Jimny has been spotted testing on numerous occasions that showed it will feature a more rugged design to emphasise its off-road credentials. The car, expected to be revealed in the final quarter of 2018, is charged with leading a 20% sales growth target for Suzuki.