Diesel sales fall across Europe as petrol is the preferred propulsion technology

08 November 2018

8 November 2018

New figures released by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) highlight the decline of diesel technology with sales dropping across Europe in Q3 2018.

The new quarterly registration figures by vehicle fuel type show that 58% of all new passenger cars sold in Europe ran on petrol, while roughly a third were fuelled by diesel. Alternatively-fuelled vehicles, comprising of liquid petroleum gas (LPG), natural gas vehicles, (NGV), hybrid, plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and electric vehicles (EV) accounted for 7.8%

Petrol’s market share increased by around 7% compared to the third quarter of 2017, accounting for well over half of the market. Demand for petrol cars increased in all the EU member states, except Sweden, growing by 15.2% in the region with 2,007,738 units sold. For the first nine months of the year, the market has grown by 16.6% compared year-to-year.

The diesel market is continuing to suffer, with demonisation of the technology ongoing through government channels and the media. Sales declined in most EU countries except Denmark, Romania, Bulgaria and Poland, meaning the market fell from 43.1% in Q3 2017 to 34.7% in the last three months. Overall, 1,208,639 cars were sold, down 18.2%. Year-to-date sales declined 16.9% compared to the first nine months of 2017.

ACEA recently published research showing that modern diesel vehicles are much cleaner than ever before, emitting lower NOx levels and less CO2 than petrol counterparts. However, the decline in sales of new diesels suggests that the technology’s reputation has been severely damaged, with the Dieselgate scandal causing much negative press, and government sanctions, increased taxes and various recalls doing further harm.

Demand for alternatively-powered cars in the European Union continued to post strong growth with sales rising 29.7%, mostly driven by the strong performance of battery (up 37.4%), hybrid (up 37.1%) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (up 24.5%). Demand for LPG and NGV vehicles also increased, rising by 11.8% in the third quarter of the year, supported by growth of both natural gas and propane-fuelled cars.

Demand for alternatively-powered vehicles significantly increased in all the major EU markets. APV registrations saw the highest percentage gains in Spain (62.5%), thanks to a notable uplift in the LPG and NGV segments, and Germany (51.4%).

Many countries are looking to push the sale of EVs, with France and the UK, in particular, banning the sale of petrol and diesel, and Germany originally planning to have one million EVs on the road. However, the UK saw 3,829 registrations while France had 5,852 registrations. Germany saw 7,381 EVs sold in the last three months, highlighting the difficulties and reasons why the country has pushed back its targets.