Small diesel-powered cars are expected to be phased out in the next two to three years and replaced by petrol-engined models using 48V mild hybrid technology, according to Volkswagen R&D chief Frank Welsch.
With tightening emissions regulations and real-world fuel economy testing coming into force, the cost of developing diesels is set to rise steeply. But with those costs being passed on to customers and profit margins on small cars already being so slight, Welsch believes few buyers will accept the price premium for a diesel on smaller models such as the Volkswagen Polo.
“Today, diesel engines are more expensive [than petrol engines] and this distance is going to grow as we have to work to tougher standards,” said Welsch. “We have enough customers for diesel in cars like Polo now, but that might not be the case forever.
“The 48V system offers better energy recuperation and near-silent stop-start, so you don’t feel the engine cutting out and starting. With a cruising function too, you will achieve savings starting at around 6-8g/km of CO2 and in real-life conditions.”