Toyota to end production of diesel cars this year

Brand to become first mainstream firm to drop diesel from passenger car fleet in EU

Toyota is to end production of diesel versions of its passenger cars sold this year. In one of the most significant moves since the diesel emissions scandal broke in September 2015, the Japanese brand says it is abandoning diesel sales in Europe from the end of this year to focus its attention on petrol-electric hybrid versions.

While its commercial vehicles such as the Land Cruiser and the Hi-Lux pick-up will retain diesel engines, it means the end of the road for diesel versions of popular passenger cars such as the Corolla, Auris, Avensis and RAV4.

Sales of Toyota diesel passenger cars in Ireland have fallen from 57.4 per cent in 2017 to just 20.9 per cent so far this year. Overall diesel sales in the new car market in the Republic are down 17 per cent on last year.

The buyer backlash against diesel engines can be traced to the admission by Volkswagen Group that it cheated on US emissions tests for toxic particulate matter and nitrogen oxides (NOx), linked to air pollution.


Since then there has been a renewed focus on real-life emissions from diesel engines rather than the figures measured in test laboratories. In turn various countries, including the Republic, have announced plans to ban the sale of diesel cars within the next 20 years.

Several cities are also considering bans on diesels much sooner in an attempt to improve air quality. Last month Germany’s top administrative court ruled that German cities have the right to ban diesel cars, in a move that could have far-reaching consequences for the owners of some 12 million vehicles in Europe’s largest auto market.

‘Difficult decision’

According to Steve Tormey, chief executive of Toyota Ireland: “I am proud to be in the driver’s seat of a company that is willing to make the difficult decision to lead the Irish market out of diesel and help deliver cleaner air quality for our future.”

The move was welcomed by the Minister for Environment, Denis Naughten. “As a country we have no option but to move towards a zero-emissions vehicle society to help protect our environment, improve our health and to ensure the next generation doesn’t suffer from complacency or inaction now.

“Climate change requires all of us to make changes and Toyota’s initiative will significantly help lead us on our low-carbon journey.”

Last month the Government announced its intention to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2030. The move, publicised as part of Project Ireland 2040 plan, also states that no National Car Test (NCT) certificates will be issued for non-zero emissions vehicles after 2045, effectively taking them off the public roads.

For Toyota internationally it further bolsters its efforts to lure consumers away from diesel and into its petrol-electric hybrid models. Its premium sub-brand Lexus recently ran an advertising campaign in Ireland with the tagline “diesel is dead”.

The firm is also promoting hydrogen power as a long-term alternative to diesel or petrol engines, although it also plans to introduce fully electric models over the next few years.

The announcement comes on the eve of the Geneva motor show in Switzerland, where the firm also confirmed the next generation of its Auris hatchback will be built in its plant in Burnaston, near Derby, in the UK.

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer is Motoring Editor, Innovation Editor and an Assistant Business Editor at The Irish Times