IS DIESEL DEAD?

The num­bers don’t lie

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - TOBY HAGON

THE up­dated Mazda 3 is the high­est-pro­file ex­am­ple of a huge down­turn in sales of diesel pas­sen­ger cars in Aus­tralia.

De­spite the 3 be­ing one of the top-sell­ing cars on the mar­ket, Mazda has dropped the dieselpow­ered XD vari­ant from the lat­est line-up due to poor sales, in­stead fo­cus­ing on the petrol mod­els that ac­count for thou­sands of sales each month.

Mazda Aus­tralia mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor Alas­tair Doak said the price of the diesel 3 – it was the most ex­pen­sive vari­ant and some $4000 dearer than its petrol equiv­a­lent – was a fac­tor, along with lower petrol prices.

“The fuel price fell, so if some­one was buy­ing the diesel as a blend of per­for­mance and econ­omy, diesel car­ries a pre­mium, so that didn’t help its cause,” Doak said.

He said the XD “was a bit of a dis­trac­tion … and hard to make sure you had stock on the ground in the right places”.

BMW, too, has ex­pe­ri­enced a de­cline with diesel pas­sen­ger cars, prompt­ing a re­view that led to the de­ci­sion to drop the 220d Coupe.

BMW Aus­tralia prod­uct plan­ning chief Shawn Tice­hurst puts the swing away from diesel down to im­prove­ments to petrol engines; al­most all petrol engines out of Europe now have tur­bocharg­ers for re­duced fuel use and im­proved per­for­mance, par­tic­u­larly torque.

“Petrol engines are now so good,” Tice­hurst said. “Peo­ple got into diesel and loved what they were when there was a big­ger dif­fer­ence, and now the petrol en­gine tech­nol­ogy has caught up.”

No com­pany Wheels spoke to was pre­pared to link the diesel slow­down with the Volk­swa­gen Diesel­gate scan­dal.

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