After a long, illustrious run, it appears that the internal combustion engine is entering its twilight years. Governments worldwide are drawing up roadmaps to phase out petrol and diesel cars by 2040 at the latest, and some have even begun considering banning their sale altogether. But is this a wise move? The Volkswagen emissions scandal is certainly playing its part. It has reshaped Europe’s biggest car maker, accelerated the growth of electric vehicles and made diesel fuel public enemy number one in certain quarters of the media. But, if we look beyond the hysterical headlines and consider the facts, it becomes clear that there are plenty of good reasons to keep diesel cars around.
Until recently, the majority of new European car registrations were diesel powered. However, this has started to change due to the introduction of lower-emissions Euro 6 models that are significantly less polluting than their predecessors. Additionally, the popularity of hybrid and electric vehicles is increasing rapidly. In fact, sales of electric vehicles already account for over 32% of all new European car registrations. This will continue to increase further as the technology improves and battery prices fall. Diesel engines also offer some key advantages over other drive systems. For example, they are often more powerful and offer better traction than other types of engines. This is especially important for vehicles that frequently carry heavy loads or make a lot of off-road trips. Furthermore, the high efficiency of diesel engines makes them particularly suitable for freeway driving.
A BMW 330d, for example, gets an excellent 45 mpg on the highway. Another advantage of diesel engines is their relatively low maintenance costs. This is especially true in comparison with petrol-powered engines that need more regular maintenance and repairs, including spark plugs, fuel filters and oil changes. Moreover, diesel engines have the ability to run on biofuels which can help reduce dependence on foreign oil supplies. Lastly, the diesel engine is still widely used in commercial vehicles. In the United States, for example, over 8 million diesel passenger cars, SUVs and full-size pickup trucks are currently on the road. This is because diesel engines are more fuel efficient and provide more power than their gasoline counterparts.
Additionally, diesel light truck engines are more durable and affordable than hybrid or all-electric alternatives. Although the development of alternative fuels and batteries is progressing quickly, they are not yet ready to take over from ICE vehicles. For example, battery capacity and charging times are still limiting, and a nationwide network of refueling stations is still several technological generations away. Until this happens, it is likely that diesel cars will remain popular among long-distance drivers who value the economy and reliability of a robust, fuel-efficient drive system.