Did we learn from Diesel Gate?

While scrolling through some car adverts recently, I was noticing a lot of diesels for sale. Not that this is new to me, practically every new BMW 5 series on the road is a 520d. But it got me thinking, did Dieselgate turn anyone against diesels?

I decided to go and do a little bit of research and found some interesting results. The figures below are sales figures from May 2015 to December 2015, the 152 plate.

  • SEAT sold 434 diesels equaling 57.79% of its sales and 371 petrols, 42.21% of sales. This doesn’t seem to bad, no? Thats what I thought, but just wait.
  • Audi sold 1,944 diesels, 91.57% of their sales. 91.57%! This leaves it with 173 petrols sold, only 8.15%.
  • Skoda sold 2,111 diesels, 66.32% of total sales, and 1,072 petrols, 33.68%.
  • I’m saving the mother ship for last, Volkswagen. Volkswagen sold 1,736 petrol cars, 27.92% of sales. It sold 4,474 diesels, equaling to 71.85% of total sales. Four thousand, four hundred and seventy four cars. I should mention, however, that 8 electric/petrol plug in hybrid electric vehicles were sold, only 0.13%.

Although these figures are quite surprising to some, I am not surprised. We, the Irish motorists, were persuaded by the Irish government’s strategy of basing the vehicle tax on the vehicles emission’s. This meant that in 2008, an Audi A4 2.0TDI (diesel) cost €280 per year to tax and a 1.8 TFSI (petrol) cost €570. So it made sense to save the €290.

But it was in mid 2015 that the buyers of these diesels had realised that they had made quite a big mistake, through no fault of their own however. Volkswagen reported that more than 15 million of its cars, including Audi, Skoda, SEAT and VW, had been programmed with software that when the car was being tested for emissions it would give a false figure, much lower than the actual figure. So therefore, VW cheated on their emissions.

Recently, Volkswagen published news that it had a €1.4bn (after tax) loss in 2015. This is compared to an €11bn (after tax)profit 2014. Are Volkswagen worried about this loss? Most definitely not. It is one of, if not the, most powerful car manufacturers in the world. It has €24.4bn in liquid assets, €1.4bn means nothing to it. It has set aside €16.2bn to deal with the cars affected by the diesel gate. So if this loss in 2015 doesn’t worry the company, what is it worried about? Reputation. It should be worried that if sales keep falling, that this €1.6bn could turn into €16bn.

The forward thinkers among us will have already come to the conclusion that diesel is on its way out, and you would be right. VW are improving its electric and hybrid systems with new cars coming out almost every year. The Golf, for example, has 2 electric variants; the e-Golf and the GTE. The Passat also has a GTE variant. Moving away from VW for a second, Toyota offer every car in its range as a hybrid. It is the only car company to offer diesel, petrol and hybrid/electric on each car in its line-up. Although almost 60% of its sales in 2015 were diesel, they push its hybrid technology more and more. Take Lexus for example, Toyota have been doing hybrid technology for years.

So the question still remains, have we learned from Dieselgate? From the way things going, no. Volkswagen Ireland has sold 8,555 cars this year, 6,139 of which have been diesel. Are Irish consumers putting their trust into diesel again? Are they just so tempted by the, slightly, lower cost of tax?

Let me know:

  • Are you a diesel car driver? Why?
  • Would you buy a diesel again? Why?