Diesel cars made up just 36.5% of total sales in the European Union in the first half of 2018, tumbling from 45.2% in the same period a year earlier, the International Energy Agency said in a report published Oct. 12, a decline that began in the wake of Volkswagen AG's emissions cheating scandal and looks set to continue as some manufacturers pull diesel offerings from their ranges.
The decline is a rapid fall from grace for diesel-fueled vehicles, which had claimed more than 50% of market share in the EU in most years since 2006, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association, but lost popularity as the harmful effects on health of the nitrous oxides the engines emit became more apparent.
"The disaffection towards diesel engine cars is spreading all over Europe," the IEA said in its oil market report.
Sales throughout the 28-member EU fell 16% year over year during the period to 3.12 million cars, while diesel's share shrank by 30% year over year in the U.K., the report said.
Diesel's bad press has intensified with plans by city halls in Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfurt to ban from city centers older cars using the fuel. Germany's central government also is in negotiations to press automakers to fit hardware to older diesel cars to cut emissions. Manufacturers have said they would prefer to offer discounts to entice drivers into newer, cleaner cars and say the lead time needed to prepare and obtain regulatory approval for pollution-cutting retrofit kits would minimize the impact of that policy.
Some Japanese manufacturers including Toyota Motor Corp., Subaru Corp. and Suzuki Motor Corp. have withdrawn or plan to withdraw from European markets diesel variants of their cars, with the exception of torque-hungry off-roaders, automotive press reports say.
Volvo Cars, now owned by China's Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd., says it will offer an electrified version of every car it launches from 2019 onward, and offer hybrid options alongside them.