Currently reading: Mercedes boss: diesel emissions debate is a "non-issue"
The debate around the emissions of modern diesel engines isn't a concern for outgoing Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche

Debate surrounding the emissions of modern diesel engines has become a “non-issue”, according to Mercedes boss Dieter Zetsche.

“Emissions with modern diesels have become a non-issue because they are with gasoline [for equivalent emissions]. We don’t need to talk about ideological struggles, just the two topics I mentioned before,” said Zetsche, speaking to Autocar at the Paris motor show.

The two issues he referred to were regulatory requirements and the economic benefits. For as long as diesel is ‘legal’, is economically viable and can benefit buyers, it will have a place.

Zetsche said it’s these economic reasons why diesel has effectively died in the supermini segment. As petrol engines have become more efficient, the greater cost of a diesel engine has made the cars uneconomically viable because the efficiency advantages are no longer there.

“There might be a time when we see that in the C-segment [Mercedes-Benz A-Class] but we don’t see it yet,” said Zetsche. “For bigger cars, there is a bigger difference and you don’t need to change diesel.”

Zetsche also said it is wrong to say Mercedes' diesel sales had “collapsed”. “It has declined but not as much as the rest of our competition and we have now seen stability for some time. But it’s lower than it was: that is also true,” he said.

Mercedes development boss Ola Kallenius, who will take over from Zetsche as head of the company in May next year, said the “NOx performance is technically solved” with diesel engines and cautioned that people “shouldn’t forget about CO2” and the role diesel can play in reducing CO2 emissions.

He said around half of Mercedes’ diesel customers are fleet buyers and they have taken a rational approach to the fuel and continue to support it as they “tend to stick to the facts”. Mercedes is also speaking to individual customers at the point of sale to deal with the perception problem around diesel.

“It’s not a losing battle,” he said.

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Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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torovich 2 October 2018

A none issue!!!!

Yes he would like the fact that motor manufactures have cheated the public and caused thousands of premature deaths to be a none issue. But that's not his decision to make.
Broughster 2 October 2018

Secondhand values?

he may be correct that diesels are still being bought by ‘rational’ customers like fleets and businesses. However, they need to sell them on to private punters at the end of three years or so and they aren’t buying. So secondhand values will collapse and this will force the businesses to rethink. 

Will86 2 October 2018

What about emissions after 100k?

I can accept that there is little issue with a new diesel out of the factory but can that performance be sustained over its whole life?

FMS 26 October 2018

Will86 wrote:

Will86 wrote:

I can accept that there is little issue with a new diesel out of the factory but can that performance be sustained over its whole life?


Name with facts any ICE brand/model at 100K, that has not lost a proportion of its efficiency, due to wear, neglect, etc and then also give accurate numbers per 100 cars on our roads that are at/over that mileage threshold?.