Unlike the Unites States, diesel engines are very common in Europe, but it may not be that way for long, thanks to ever-stricter air pollution regulations.
While it is true that diesel engines are inherently more fuel-efficient, they don’t burn as clean as gasoline engines. The technology exists to clean up diesel exhaust, but it is expensive. Also, diesel refining is expected to be reduced in Europe. Finally, as European air pollution regulations become more strict, diesel engines just won’t be able to compete for cleanliness, especially in the areas of particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen. The result of all this is that we could be looking at the last days for the diesel engine in Europe.
Currently, diesel engines account for about 55% of the European market, 50% in the United Kingdom, 70% in Spain and France. Over time, analysts expect to see this market share drop. For example, Joe Bakaj, head of product development for Ford of Europe, said, “The costs of meeting the Euro 6 and expected Euro 7 pollution regulations would be a major problem, as would the possibility of reduced petrol refining capacity in Europe. This would force up the price of diesel, a by-product of the process.”
Prices of diesel fuel and anti-air-pollution technologies are expected to rise, meaning both the vehicles themselves and refueling will become more expensive. Who will buy these expensive vehicles, then? On the other hand, improving overall fuel economy via hybrid electric vehicle technology, such as in the Volvo V60 Diesel Plug-In Plug-In Hybrid electric vehicle [PHEV], which is rated about 120mpg-e [miles per gallon equivalent] after 35mi of Pure electric range. On the other hand, the V60 PHEV also costs around $81,000 before taxes and fees, significantly more than a typical diesel. Buyers that aren’t as well-heeled will opt for cheaper gasoline-powered vehicles.
Image © Volvo