A dive into December’s new car registration figures provides plenty of evidence for potential ongoing peril throughout 2018: registrations were down 13.9% overall, with diesels down 31%.
In that light, the prediction of an overall 5-7% fall in the next 12 months feels conservative.
The industry’s biggest hope for shallowing the downward curve obviously lies in persuading consumers that it is okay to buy a diesel again.
The facts are on the industry’s side: as stricter test regimes ramp up, the evidence is there for all to see, and our sister title What Car?’s latest True MPG figures is beginning to highlight a new generation of diesels that can compete with relatively new petrols for both CO2 and NOx emissions.
But are facts enough, after nine months of sustained negativity and misinformation? Many believe the dirty diesel moniker is here to stay, regardless of the (so-called, and still disputed) truth.
To swing the pendulum of public opinion back to a point of understanding the pros and cons of each fuel type - let alone favouring diesel again - will require another massive shift.
A sustained education programme from car makers is long overdue, but even then it is hard to see it succeeding unless policy makers too can be persuaded to speak and act on the facts, rather than whims.