Market share of diesel cars in the UK will fall, says Volkwagen UK boss, and small cars will be hit first

Volkswagen is forecasting the diesel share of the UK car market will drop to as low as 30% as sales of alternative-fuelled cars strengthen.

“The percentage of diesel will decline. It’s already happening. The first to be affected will be small cars,” said VW Group UK boss Paul Willis, speaking at the Future of the Car Summit organised by the Financial Times.

Willis puts a 30% share at the bottom of his estimate for the market and said it “maybe” will remain as high as 40%. Willis didn’t provide a timescale for the decline. If the diesel market falls to 30%, it will drop back to 2005 levels — an 11-year retrenchment.

If it bottoms out at 40%, that will be back to 2007 levels.

Diesel market share is currently tracking at 55% of the UK market — a big increase since the Blair/Brown Labour government started incentivising diesel in 1999 as part of the UK’s commitment to cut CO2 output. Back then, diesel took 14% of UK sales.

The decline is being driven by two main factors: growing awareness of health issues linked to poor air quality, and the Dieselgate affair that has drawn manufacturers’ fuel economy and pollutant numbers into question.

Meanwhile, increasingly capable and available petrol engined hybrids and battery electric cars are filling the gap.

According to Richard Bruce, the boss of the government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles, which administers £400 million of grants for sub-75g/km cars, sales are booming. Bruce said: “Electric vehicle sales in the UK in February were more than the whole market in 2011.”

However, Willis predicted that diesel’s decline would be halted by the need for many drivers to own a car that can drive longer distances and be fuelled easily. “Diesel will continue to play a significant role in the market for drivers who need flexibility,” he said.

Willis also predicted that the decline would be halted by new, clean diesel engine designs. This will ease some of the environmental pressures over local pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide and particulates.

Quizzed at the conference on the prospects for the residual values of diesel cars, which might be expected to decline if demand drops, Willis said there’s no evidence of second-hand values waning. He said: “In terms of RVs [residual values], we don’t see a decline.”

Read more on the decline of diesel here

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Golf

Just how good is the mighty Volkswagen Golf? The seventh generation of Europe's best selling car has been facelifted to keep its nose ahead of its rivals

Join the debate

Comments
25

27 May 2016
Well, coming from VW, it is not really a prediction, is it??

Morty

27 May 2016
Diesel 55%, I thought it was currently 49%.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

27 May 2016
Diesel passenger transport is heading towards zero. Non ownership Electric Autonomous transport is the future. The key figure missing from this article is when.

27 May 2016
Walking wrote:

Diesel passenger transport is heading towards zero. Non ownership Electric Autonomous transport is the future. The key figure missing from this article is when.

Walking? Why are you on the Autocar website? Non ownership electric autonomous transport being the future is based on ONE report. With regards to when, it won't happen for years - as with every other type of technology, most people will be priced out of that stuff to begin with.


"Work hard and be nice to people"

27 May 2016
You'd have to be a moron to buy a diesel nowadays with the adverse health effects of particulate matter and noxious gases being well known and linked to respiratory cancers.

Also, I have this question - does the tractor-like sound of diesel cars really not bother you? The great noise-pollution caused by these cars should be tackled too.

27 May 2016
ClassAxe wrote:

You'd have to be a moron to buy a diesel nowadays with the adverse health effects of particulate matter and noxious gases being well known and linked to respiratory cancers.

Also, I have this question - does the tractor-like sound of diesel cars really not bother you? The great noise-pollution caused by these cars should be tackled too.

I am happy being a moron and my D5 engined S60 doesnt sound anything like a tractor, and its cleaner than a lot of petrol cars.. Still haters have to hate.. Of course, I suppose you grow all your own food, produce all your own belongings, ride everywhere on a bike, never travel by train, plane, taxi, bus or boat, and also generate all your own power from renewable sources, because of course to do otherwise would make you a hypocrite. Diesel may be unhealthy, but its not modern cars that are the problem,they produce very little of the pollution you complain about, the whole industrialised world is reliant on diesel power, and that is not going to change in my our your lifetime.

27 May 2016
Ok, as long as you are happy killing yourself and your fellow passengers; the people who receive the largest does of carcinogenic matter are the diesel-car occupants.

27 May 2016
ClassAxe wrote:

Ok, as long as you are happy killing yourself and your fellow passengers; the people who receive the largest does of carcinogenic matter are the diesel-car occupants.

Based on what? Link us to this claim please...


"Work hard and be nice to people"

28 May 2016
Mini2 wrote:
ClassAxe wrote:

Ok, as long as you are happy killing yourself and your fellow passengers; the people who receive the largest does of carcinogenic matter are the diesel-car occupants.

Based on what? Link us to this claim please...

Just read the World Health Organisation Report, evidence enough.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

27 May 2016
ClassAxe wrote:

You'd have to be a moron to buy a diesel nowadays with the adverse health effects of particulate matter and noxious gases being well known and linked to respiratory cancers.

Also, I have this question - does the tractor-like sound of diesel cars really not bother you? The great noise-pollution caused by these cars should be tackled too.

The case would therefore have to be the same for motorbikes and vans. They're far more noisy than your average diesel car.
I take issue with your "you'd have to be a moron" comment. You probably don't have long motorway commutes for your job, like many diesel drivers do. Many of these diesel drivers also rarely drive in urban areas.
Can you link to the reports too, I'm genuinely interested in the health implications and I'm not sure where to start...


"Work hard and be nice to people"

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Lexus LC500
    Car review
    20 October 2017
    Futuristic Lexus LC coupé mixes the latest technology with an old-school atmospheric V8
  • Maserati Levante S GranSport
    First Drive
    20 October 2017
    Get ready to trade in your diesels: Maserati’s luxury SUV finally gets the engine it’s always needed
  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK