IS DIESEL DEAD?
The numbers don’t lie
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.