Nissan to phase out diesel cars in Europe

Japanese carmaker will cease to launch diesel passenger vehicles from 2021

Nissan has become the latest carmaker to shun the scandal-tainted fuel source. Photograph:  Johnny Milano/Bloomberg

Nissan has become the latest carmaker to shun the scandal-tainted fuel source. Photograph: Johnny Milano/Bloomberg

 

Nissan is to phase out diesel from its cars in Europe, becoming the latest carmaker to shun the scandal-tainted fuel source.

The Japanese group will cease to launch passenger vehicles with diesel engines from 2021, though it will still offer diesel options in its commercial vehicles and pick-up trucks.

Toyota has already announced that it will stop selling diesel cars in Europe, while Fiat Chrysler will kill diesel in all of its passenger cars by 2022 under a plan to be announced in June.

Nissan’s move comes amid plunging diesel sales across Europe as governments rush to limit the fuel source that once dominated the continent’s cars.

France has pledged to ban the sale of diesel and petrol cars from 2040, while some cities in Germany are set to ban older diesels.

The UK government has increased taxes on diesel cars and is planning a ban on the sale of most hybrids and all purely petrol or diesel-driven cars from 2040.

Transition

Nissan said: “Our electrification push will allow us to discontinue diesel gradually from passenger cars at the time of each vehicle renewal. This transition will accelerate as we introduce hybrid vehicles and significantly accelerate our electric vehicle offering.”

Sales of diesel vehicles in Europe fell 8 per cent last year, taking the fuel’s market share to 43.8 per cent, according to data from Jato Dynamics. In Ireland diesel sales have fallen from a high of 73.8 per cent in 2014 to 56.1 per cent so far this year.

The decline accelerated in the early months of 2018. In Ireland the diesel share of Nisssan’s new car registrations have fallen from 53 per cent of its total sales in 2015 to 37 per cent so far this year. However, diesel still makes up over 50 per cent of sales of its biggest selling model, the Qashqai crossover. In the UK, diesel sales in Britain dropped 32 per cent in the first four months of this year.

Last month Nissan blamed the fall in diesel sales for its decision to axe hundreds of jobs at its UK Sunderland plant.

Because diesel engines emit about a fifth less CO2 than petrol, many car manufacturers had been relying on them to meet stringent EU-wide emissions targets that come into force in 2021. Falling sales have forced several companies to accelerate their plans to roll out electric and hybrid vehicles in order to comply with the new rules and avoid potentially massive fines.

Alliance

Nissan, which through an alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi is the world’s largest manufacturer of passenger cars, already produces the biggest-selling purely electric car in Europe, the Leaf.

The three companies, which are moving closer together under the leadership of Carlos Ghosn, plan to produce 12 purely electric car designs by 2022.

Nissan wants half of its cars sold in Europe to be electric or hybrid by 2025.

The industry still expects that heavier vehicles, such as delivery vans and pick-up trucks, will require diesel for many years to come because of their fuel economy requirements and the difficulty in creating efficient battery-driven alternatives.

Nissan added that diesel “remains an important fuel technology for light commercial vehicles, including pick-ups, but we will be reducing our diesel dependency in this area too” as more hybrid vehicles come on to the market.

– Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018