Diesel is not dead as a fuel, and it is down to the car industry to change the public’s increasingly poor perception of it, according to Volkswagen Group chairman Matthias Muller.
Speaking on the eve of the Frankfurt motor show where he outlined plans to launch 80 new electrified models across VW’s brands by 2025, Muller stressed that the ongoing sale of conventional petrol and diesel engines was critical to the brand’s success.
“We are in a period of transition, and we must bridge - and fund - that transition by continuing to sell the latest diesel and petrol engines,” said Muller, who outlined a 20 billion euro (£18bn) investment plan into e-mobility. “Today’s engines can contribute to much cleaner air quality, and it is a truth that those profits are what will fund our investments.”
Asked whether public opinion on diesel was now too negative for sales to ever recover - a fact born out by plummeting diesel sales in most countries - Muller said: “I understand why the public opinion is where it is on diesel, but the fact is the latest technologies have a lot to give. It is up to us to persuade the customers and regulators of the benefits; we must earn their trust. But it is never too late to do that.”
Muller also conceded for the first time that the Dieselgate scandal may have been a result of VW’s previous success, saying: “Maybe after 10 to 20 years of continuous success we got complacent, or pursued new goals too enthusiastically.
“We are still embroiled in that, and I cannot see an end, but we must keep working.”