The demonisation of diesel

Since the beginning of 2017, the market has seen a decline in the number of new diesel registrations by nearly 25%, according to statistics from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Performance-wise, new diesel cars in 2017 emitted around 12% less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than equivalent models. This, experts say, suggests that the decline in buying diesel vehicles has resulted from a ‘demonisation’ of diesel.

Contributing factors

One of the contributors to this demonisation is that drivers could now pay between £20 and £500 more for the vehicle excise duty in the first year of ownership. This is dependent on whether their new diesel vehicle meets the most recent emissions standards. Another issue is the fear that the UK government will move up their 2040 ban on sales of new diesel and petrol cars to improve the UK’s progress towards climate targets.

The automotive industry is looking to leverage these shifting attitudes with the following tactics:

• Offering buyers more enticing finance offers, as upfront costs are a key factor that puts people off buying electric.
• Educating customers that diesel vehicles have lower average carbon dioxide emissions than petrol ones.
• Increasing used car options to attract more buyers.

Traders everywhere will have observed the decline in new diesel registrations, and also that the market has clearly factored in the changes. However, the policies of the government seem to have sparked a revival in an appeal for petrol vehicles, rather than sending motorists into the electric or hybrid market.

Putting it in context

The increases and decreases reported don’t really tell the full story; in context, hybrids and electrics only represent a fraction of the full market, the decline in diesel doesn’t mean the industry is dead by a longshot. The automotive industry must still focus on offering the right used cars, and buyers should be looking for the solution that works best for them in the long-term.

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