The debate around the emissions of modern diesel engines isn't a concern for outgoing Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche
Mark Tisshaw
2 October 2018

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 [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.

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class comes with fine engines and a typically laid-back dynamic character. Not one for the interested driver, but a good advert for being disinterested.

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Comments
11

2 October 2018
With all due respect, Mr Zetsche has probably inhaled too many NOXs to talk so leery. He is on his way out. His comments on the superminis are out of character too since Mercedes does not make any. I partially agree with his argument about the role of diesel in large and long distance vehicles.

FMS

26 October 2018
fadyady wrote:

With all due respect, Mr Zetsche has probably inhaled too many NOXs to talk so leery. He is on his way out. His comments on the superminis are out of character too since Mercedes does not make any. I partially agree with his argument about the role of diesel in large and long distance vehicles.

 

I guess you have either forgotten about the Smart car range, wholly owned by Daimler, or you didn't know in the first place.

2 October 2018

We shouldnt forget that Mercedes as makers of larger vehicles are going to find it harder than most to reach ever tougher CO2 limits, and the only way for them is diesel, as the alternative is electric, and they lose car makers money. So diesel is right for Mercedes. That doesnt mean its right for its customers, but i dont think that matters to Mr Zetsche

FMS

26 October 2018
artill wrote:

We shouldnt forget that Mercedes as makers of larger vehicles are going to find it harder than most to reach ever tougher CO2 limits, and the only way for them is diesel, as the alternative is electric, and they lose car makers money. So diesel is right for Mercedes. That doesnt mean its right for its customers, but i dont think that matters to Mr Zetsche

 

You shouldn't forget that diesel is right for many companies and many drivers, due to job need, personal choice, etc, so perhaps just let people/firms who are actually buying/leasing diesels, get on with what choices they make and stop being so judgemental. If their customers do not feel it is right for them, they will not buy/lease them...or are you the towering intellect of this generation?.

2 October 2018

It’s a trust issue. Car manufacturers and legislators colluded to claim huge official falls in CO2 emissions whilst cheating the public.

Quite rationally, the public has responded by turning against diesel.

If they want to make it a ‘non issue’, they need to find a way to rebuild trust.

2 October 2018

scrap is totally correct.  

 

Politicians and businesses have not come close to accepting that they can no longer lie to their voters/customers and expect there to be no consequences.

 

Throw a twist of hunnish skulldugery into the mix, and they come across as panto villains.

2 October 2018

His comments are fundamentally correct, inasmuch as small diesels are effectiuvely dead for simple economic reasons.  If Mercedes (along with BMW et al) were to stick to making smaller-engined diesel-powered large vehicles, then all well & good, but instead they're going for huge BHP monsters which are utterly obNoxious.

2 October 2018

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:

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?. 

2 October 2018

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. 

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