Diesel car sales slowdown in UK bucks continental trend

The UK market for diesel cars is collapsing despite surging demand in the rest of Europe, according to a report by automotive consultancy Ricardo. Diesel’s higher price at the pumps, along with consumer perceptions of it as a `dirty’ fuel, cut its penetration of the UK car market to just 14% last year, from a […]

The UK market for diesel cars is collapsing despite surging demand in the rest of Europe, according to a report by automotive consultancy Ricardo.

Diesel’s higher price at the pumps, along with consumer perceptions of it as a `dirty’ fuel, cut its penetration of the UK car market to just 14% last year, from a peak of 23% in 1994.

But sales rose significantly in five other major EU markets – France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Belgium. Diesels accounted for over one in four car sales across Europe in 1999 – a record level. Ricardo predicts this could reach 40%, thanks to improved engine performance and demands for lower emissions.

Martin Love, the report’s author, said the UK is the only major European market to favour petrol over diesel in terms of price. `Everywhere else in Europe people can see a cost benefit at the pumps,’ he said.

UK sales of diesel-powered commercial vehicles, however, almost doubled to 230,000 in the six years to 1998.

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