The growing European anti-diesel sentiment will make it harder for automakers to meet the EU’s fleet CO2 target of 95 grams per kilometer. Diesels are about 20% more fuel efficient than gasoline engines so they are key to most manufacturers’ CO2-reduction strategies. Automakers that miss their CO2 targets face stiff fines.
Demand for diesels, which held steady in the immediate aftermath of VW’s scandal, is starting to crumble because of intensifying pressure on the powertrain, especially in Germany. Stuttgart, the cradle of Germany’s auto industry, could even prevent 3-year-old diesels from entering the city limits on certain days starting next year.
Munich will likely be the next to institute a ban following a court order at the end of February. The bad news had a quick effect: diesels accounted for just 40% of Germany’s new-car sales in March, compared with 45.8% last year and a high of 48.1% in 2012.
Governments in Germany, France and the UK are cracking down hard on toxic nitrogen oxide emissions from diesels, leaving brands such as BMW, VW, Mercedes-Benz and even Audi at risk because they have bet heavily on the powertrain to meet tougher CO2 emissions rules that start to take effect in 2020.