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.