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Should you be recommending diesels?

Hi

I have the impression that on many occasions you can recommend a diesel as being a better option, and I can fully understand why. The problem is, it seems to me, that there is a huge degree of uncertainty over diesels, with widespread negative publicity and many cities proposing to ban them. It doesn't really matter whether this negativity is justified. The "uncertainty" will kill any market. Not only do you have to worry about where you might be allowed to drive, but also whether there will be much demand for diesels in four or five years time, when you go to sell. So economically, diesels might be a better proposition, but it takes a brave person to make that choice.

Philip

Filed under petrol vs. diesel - Asked by Philip Donegan (Ballina) - Sun, 08 Apr 2018 16:14


Answer

Hi Philip and thanks for this,

You make some good points here, but the main one I'd like to focus on is the uncertainty. It is, without a doubt, reducing car sales right now, as people don't know what to do, and all we can do is present the facts. They are this:

1 - There are many motorists in Ireland for which there is no economic alternative to a diesel car. Those that travel long distances day in, day out, could not use an electric car. Plug-in hybrids would be useless to them as well as they only return good economy when regularly charged up. The latest non plug-in hybrids are more economical than ever on a long run, but still not as cheap to fuel as a good diesel. And let's not forget, the majority of drivers are buying used, so there's very little choice in the used market for anything other than conventional diesel or petrol.

2 - For another large number of Irish motorists, petrol power would be perfectly fine. We've been saying for years that too many people have diesel cars because that became the default after 2008. Regardless of air quality and health issues, diesels come with higher maintenance costs, especially if they aren't used at higher speeds regularly.

3 - It seems to have been lost in the conversation that the diesel bans being discussed are not for all diesels, but for older diesels that emit much higher levels of NOx and other pollutants. 

4 - The Irish government needs to hurry up and let the country/industry know what it plans to do, for this uncertainty is killing the market full-stop, not just diesel power.

With all the above in mind, we will continue to help buyers choose a car based on their individual circumstances and for many that will still mean a diesel. For now.

I welcome thoughts and comments on this below. Would be great to get some feedback on what people think and whether they are holding off buying a car because of the uncertainty.

1 response

Ireland is a very difficult market to buy new in at the moment. A clear shift towards petrol has not been fully backed up by Irish dealers with poorer selection of petrol motors available here compared to the UK:

 - Hyundai i30 Tourer only available in 1.0-litre petrol here (1.4-litre version available in other i30 variants here and also in Tourer in the UK)

 - Ford Mondeo 1.5-litre EcoBoost engine dropped from offering here earlier in year - only petrol Mondeo is the 2.0-litre Hybrid, which doesn't review particularly well for many reasons. The 1.5-litre is still available in the UK

 - VW Passat Estate had the 1.4 TSI 150hp ACT engine dropped, but, as above, it is still available in the UK.

 - Last year the Skoda Superb with the same engine was a bit of a secret too - it didn't appear on the default price list that you'd pick up in a dealer.

 - Forthcoming Honda Civic Saloon to be only available in 1.0-litre petrol form, but not in 1.5-litre form (as is the case with the hatch)

In my opinion, you could do a whole article on the UK market vs Irish market and why we get screwed for choice. VRT may be part of it, but most cars are built to order these days so it's not as if the importers here would get screwed with huge amounts of stock by offering more choice.

Another issue here is finding petrol models to test drive. The weight, weight distribution/balance, performance profile and noise profile of a diesel car are different to the same model's petrol variants and I'd be extremely reluctant to order a car with an engine that I'd not driven in some form or other, but many dealers don't carry sufficient range of cars so that you can try before you buy. e.g. neither Ford nor Skoda had a 1.5-litre Mondeo or 1.4-litre Superb available in petrol for test driving across the entire country - I checked! How could someone be expected to commit to a €30k+ purchase by driving the diesel equivalent? I didn't.

Diesel has fallen from grace (no doubt), but it would be great if the government would give clear messages as to what they intend to do in respect of it. Like many Irish motorists, they're failing to indicate EVs are not quite there yet and hybrids the same... from an environmental point of view anyway. The CO2 and NOx emissions from their production and the production of the power to run them coupled with the inefficiencies of power transmission mean that their "clean" credentials are questionable for now.

I, for one, am intruiged by the forthcoming SkyActiv-X engine from Mazda. There's a slight danger of an all-new Focus Estate in 1.5-litre EcoBoost form attracting me between now and then, but the Mazda is the Holy Grail if they can make it work and the concept car is to die for!

Posted by Kieran Donnelly (Cork) - Wed, 02 May 2018 13:49:05