Although he stressed that it was a personal view rather than a company ruling, Didier Leroy said he believed that the firm’s success with petrol-based and plug-in hybrids had proved that it was no longer necessary to offer private buyers diesels.
“My personal opinion - and this is my personal opinion, not a company one - is no, we’ll not launch another diesel car,” he said. Leroy is regarded as the second most powerful decision-maker at Toyota, behind CEO Akio Toyoda.
Leroy added that his view was established in 2014, prior to Dieselgate, when he signed off production of the Toyota C-HR crossover without the option of a diesel powertrain, despite opposition from some dealers.
“We took the view, a long time ago, that we would not sell the C-HR [crossover] with a diesel engine,” said Leroy. “At the time, the distributors were against my decision. They said they needed diesel for the market. But we needed to follow the long-term trend of eco-vehicles.”
The CH-R has been a massive sales success for Toyota in Europe, pushing its sales of SUVs up from 12% of its total in 2016 to 30% this year, according to JATO data.
Diesel sales have slumped across Europe, including in the UK, in 2017, as a result of growing public awareness of NOx pollution and punitive legislative measures on older diesels.Following the launch of the CH-R, Toyota has taken the same petrol or petrol-hybrid only course with the new Toyota Yaris, although a diesel is offered in limited numbers to fleet customers.
It does continue to sell older, larger cars equipped with diesel engines, many of which are sourced from BMW, but Leroy intimated that these options will be phased out with each all-new product update.