Sunday 20 January 2019

Diesel is dead. No, it's alive. Geneva reflects crossroads

Meanwhile, race to electric era picks up speed as new models shown

Toyota Auris Hybrid
Toyota Auris Hybrid
Lexus UX
Jaguar i-Pace
Ssangyong Musso
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

Against a backdrop of Toyota's announcement that it will cease diesel car production this year and a proliferation of electric vehicles, the Geneva Motor Show mirrors motoring at its new crossroads - or should that be its new departure lounge?

On the one hand, Toyota is saying that diesel is dead and acting accordingly.

On the other hand, Volkswagen chief Matthias Mueller insists: "Diesel will see a renaissance in the not-too-distant future because people who drove diesels will realise that it was a very comfortable drive concept."

He stressed this week, in advance of the Geneva show: "Once the knowledge that diesels are eco-friendly firms up in people's minds, then for me there's no reason not to buy one."

Who to believe? Regardless of who is right or wrong, one thing all are agreed on, in some shape or form, is that the future will ultimately be electric. And that concurrence is most heavily echoed in this year's show, with nearly every marque showing or promising (via concept or near-production) an electric, or electrified (hybrid etc) model for the next few years.

Toyota's decision, the first by a major manufacturer, effectively means there will be no sales of its diesel passenger cars here next year.

Globally, the company plans to focus even more on hybrids. And a good example of that is the new Auris, which is being shown at Geneva. Due in Ireland early next year, it will have a 1.2-litre 4cyl turbo petrol (116 hp), a 1.8-litre hybrid (1.8-litre 122bhp and a 2-litre, more powerful 180bhp hybrid.

In an interview with Independent Motors, Toyota Ireland chief Steve Tormey said he was confident that diesel car owners would not lose out in the decision to opt out of the fuel for passenger cars.

He expected strong demand and value for second-hand diesels to continue for years.

Mr Tormey said the decision to end diesel passenger car production had been flagged for a while given their success with hybrid.

The mix of diesel is now 20pc against nearly 50pc for hybrid (read the interview in full on page 3).

Even though Volkswagen see diesel having a renaissance, they are planning for electric in a big way. They will have a full electric midsize saloon by 2022 based on the I.D. Vizzion concept shown at Geneva.

And BMW say by end of next year they hope to have half a million electrified cars on the road. The plans stretch ahead for so many manufacturers that the real statement is, electric is the future.

Indo Motoring

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