GM lawsuit digs deeper grave for diesel vehicles
‘There just isn’t much reason to sell them’
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.