It’s looking like the gradual demise of diesel cars on UK roads is about to take a major step forwards. With the government having made clear its intention to phase diesel vehicles out of existence here in Britain, two of the biggest car makers in the world have announced their withdrawal of diesel cars from the UK market.
This week, Toyota made the announcement that it would cease selling diesel cars in the UK on a permanent basis as of December 31. At pretty much the same time, Subaru stated that while it would continue to sell diesel vehicles in the UK while stocks last, no more diesel cars would be made for the UK market.
As of the beginning of next year therefore, the market for diesel cars in the UK is expected to plummet dramatically.
Decrease in Demand
Ever since the huge VW emissions scandal that shook the global automotive industry a few years ago, there has been a marked decline in demand for diesel vehicles in general. In fact, only around one in every three vehicles sold in the UK today is powered by diesel. Around a year ago, it was closer to 50% of vehicles.
All of which represents a remarkable transformation from the picture in the UK just a decade or two ago. At which time, the government was practically begging British motorists to choose ‘safe and economical’ diesel cars, as preferable alternatives to petrol.
Having been blamed for contributing excessively to dangerous air pollution levels in the UK, diesel cars have since been declared public-enemy number one. As demand declines, automakers in growing numbers are turning their attention away from diesel vehicles and instead focusing on more environmentally friendly models.
“Toyota will stop selling diesel passenger cars in all European markets by the end of this year,” commented Johan van Zyl, President of Toyota Motor Europe.
“In some markets they will be phased out even faster – some by the end of this quarter.”
“Strong customer demand for hybrid electricity versions on its core models means Toyota will phase out diesel engines from all its passenger cars in 2019.”
Unsurprisingly, those who were to some extent persuaded to invest in diesel vehicles by the British government itself just a short time ago are not particularly impressed with the recent turnaround. With the threat of emissions charges and the possibility of mandatory diesel car scrapping on the horizon, millions have lashed out at the government for unfairly targeting responsible and well-meaning motorists.
Still, automakers have made it clear that as far as they’re concerned, the future of the industry lies well away from conventional diesel vehicles.
“We can only sell what the manufacturer produces, and moving forward it looks like they will probably not be producing any diesels,” said Subaru’s UK chief Chris Graham.
“We’re working very hard, particularly in Scotland and Northern Ireland, which are both very hardcore diesel areas. We’ve secured ourselves enough diesels to move us beyond the point of exhausting all those customers who want to change at the moment.”
Meanwhile, a representative speaking on behalf of the Alliance of British Drivers said the time had come for the government to focus on more important matters.
“The true situation is that car emissions – and indeed those of all major atmospheric pollutants – have been dramatically declining for the past four-and-a-half decades,” the alliance reported.
“Given that UK urban air pollution has declined dramatically and average life expectancies have steadily risen year-on-year since the Clean Air Act – and will continue to do so with continuing advances in technology – isn’t it time the environmental lobby and cynical politicians laid off road users and focused their attention elsewhere?”
Following in the footsteps of Toyota and Subaru, a handful of additional major manufacturers are expected to announce their withdrawal from diesel vehicle production over the coming months.