GM law­suit digs deeper grave for diesel ve­hi­cles

‘There just isn’t much rea­son to sell them’

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - DAVID WELCH

It’s easy to imag­ine diesel will die in the United States.

The trou­bles that started al­most two years ago with the emis­sions scan­dal at Volk­swa­gen just keep rolling on and on.

With Gen­eral Mo­tors now con­fronting a class-ac­tion law­suit over 700,000 diesel trucks, there’s grow­ing sense across the auto in­dus­try that the days of diesel cars are num­bered, at least in the United States.

GM calls the al­le­ga­tions of emis­sion-test cheat­ing base­less, and the law­suit stops short of claim­ing a breach of clean-air reg­u­la­tions. But in­creas­ingly, an­a­lysts are won­der­ing who will be will­ing to buy diesel cars and trucks given that many in the in­dus­try have been ac­cused of fudg­ing pol­lu­tion stan­dards.

“This is ac­cel­er­at­ing the demise,” said Kevin Ty­nan, an an­a­lyst with Bloomberg In­tel­li­gence. “We were never into them any­way, and with al­ter­na­tives like hy­brids and elec­tric ve­hi­cles, there just isn’t much of a rea­son to sell them.”

GM is the lat­est au­tomaker to face a civil law­suit claim­ing that its diesel en­gines use soft­ware to meet clean-air rules while the en­gines pol­lute at higher lev­els. The law firm su­ing GM, Ha­gens Berman, has also sued Daim­ler, Fiat Chrysler Au­to­mo­biles and VW, which must pay $24.5 bil­lion US in gov­ern­ment penal­ties and con­sumer give­backs for cheat­ing on emis­sions.

Even if the other law­suits come to naught, tougher reg­u­la­tions and grow­ing lit­i­ga­tion make sell­ing the cars oner­ous. Au­tomak­ers have mostly been phas­ing diesel en­gines out of all but their brawni­est pick­ups, which need the added power for tow­ing and haul­ing.

This year there are only 10 diesel mod­els for sale in the United States, half what was of­fered in 2016. Sales fell to 86,000 last year from 143,000 in 2015, ac­cord­ing to data com­piled by Bloomberg.

Re­gard­less of the out­come of law­suits, some diesel cars and SUVs are go­ing away be­cause fu­ture clean air rules will make them more ex­pen­sive to sell, said John Ger­man, se­nior fel­low at the In­ter­na­tional Coun­cil on Clean Trans­porta­tion.

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