By the way, how is the diesel?

The simple fact of wondering about Diesel’s health certainly suggests that this technology, triumphant yesterday, has entered the palliative care phase. And if it is true that we are not very far from it, manufacturers continue to sell it, while diesel still represents more than 70% of the fuel circulated at the pumps in France.

An opportunity, therefore, to carry out a brief health check at a time when many drivers who value driving pleasure and moderate appetite are still wondering whether there is any interest in switching to electrified drives.

Is the diesel cooked? As abrupt as it may seem, this question makes it possible to set things straight. While diesel has long unabashedly dominated new car sales in both France and Europe, its decline since fame has been spectacular diesel gate in September 2015.

So we went from 55% of new car sales in Europe in 2012 to 45% in 2017 and then to… 17% in the first three quarters of 2022! In France, a country that has long favored this technology, new diesel car registrations plummeted to 199,000 units from January to October, down from 299,000 a year earlier! 100,000 cars less!

57% of diesel vehicles drive in France

In other words, the park will die out on its own within a few years, and perhaps faster than previously thought, but it’s still important.

In addition, there are almost 22 million diesel cars on the road in France today – or 57% – out of a total of 38 million – and this explains why diesel remains by far the most widely used fuel at the pump.

In September, the proportion of diesel sold in road fuel was still 73.2%. We don’t know the share of trucks in that number, but the fact is that heating oil still powers the country.

Even if local “flexibility” is to be expected temporarily, access to ZFE-m for older diesels will be significantly more difficult in the coming years.

And he has merit in doing so, for the obstacles that stand in his way are numerous. Between skyrocketing prices at the pump (+27.2 cents over a year, according to the carbu.com website versus +4.3 cents for the SP95-E10), the access bans on future low-low zone mobility emissions (ZFE-m ) and the prevailing opinion now condemning what it adored yesterday, times are hard!

And this despite the qualities of a technology that has never been so sharp. Today’s diesels present themselves as “monsters” of driving pleasure and energy efficiency, with which you can drive silently and at a good speed through the country without even emptying the entire tank.

38% of sales at BMW

To convince you of this, we refer you to our current test of the BMW 4 Series Grand Coupé 30d, for example. The program includes 6 cylinders with around 286 hp, 5.3 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h and all that for just 145 g CO2/km. A little miracle!

In addition, informed motorists are not wrong. BMW, polled by Caradisiac, says diesel still accounts for 38% of its total sales in France since the beginning of the year. That number even jumps to 54% of sales for the 3 Series and 55% for the 5 Series.

At Dacia, despite competition from LPG within the range, diesel versions still account for 39% of Duster orders in France in the first ten months of the year.  That figure is 33% if we look at the Europe + Morocco zone.
At Dacia, despite competition from LPG within the range, diesel versions still account for 39% of Duster orders in France in the first ten months of the year. That figure is 33% if we look at the Europe + Morocco zone.

In the interview he gave Caradisiac at the Paris Motor Show, Xavier Chardon, head of the Volkswagen France concern, explained that diesel still interests a (small) clientele of motorists who drive 30-40 thousand km a year and are not convinced or Hybrids are best suited.

Car registrations in France by energy since summer 2021: diesel in continuous decline, petrol resisting, hybrid stagnating and electric increasing.
Car registrations in France by energy since summer 2021: diesel in continuous decline, petrol resisting, hybrid stagnating and electric increasing.

In short, when the electric and the petrol push their pawns, the diesel puts up (a little) resistance… without too many illusions anyway. ” Whatever we do in thermals, we will not go below 80 g CO2/km. Electrification is the only solution if we want to move towards zero carbonsummarized Michel Forissier, technical director of the Valeo Group, in an interview with Caradisiac last spring.

Builders stop investing

Several manufacturers, including Stellantis, have already announced that they will no longer invest in internal combustion engines that meet the new Euro 7 standard, given the associated development and manufacturing costs of around €3,000 to €5,000. It is in fact necessary to reduce NOx emissions by 25% to 60 milligrams per km, compared to 80 currently below Euro 6, and this implies investments that will probably never pay off for the brands.

It is therefore pointless to hope for a sudden setback in diesel, even if Thierry Breton recently tried to push back the timetable for the planned end of thermal power in Europe in 2035.

In an interview with Les Echos in early November, the EU Internal Market Commissioner made the following clear: “I am announcing the creation of a working group to prepare for the 2026 deadline. Every three months I will bring together this group, made up of major car manufacturers, suppliers, unions, user associations, cities, electricity operators, etc. The aim is to identify and address the difficulties in implementing this mega-transformation. The questions are very numerous and in 2026 or before 2026 we may have to adapt the measures that will support the course until 2035.”

However, we will not have too many illusions about the “revoyure” of 2026, which seems to be guided above all by the need to reassure industrialists, shaken in recent years.

Still mostly second hand

You are therefore free to buy a new diesel, but do so wisely as the prospect of resale is much less straightforward than in the past.

In the first half of the year, diesel engines accounted for more than half of the transactions on the used market.  Of course, the Crit'Air 3 and 4 models are easier to negotiate.
In the first half of the year, diesel engines accounted for more than half of the transactions on the used market. Of course, the Crit’Air 3 and 4 models are easier to negotiate.

Under these conditions, one can also ask oneself whether buying a used diesel still makes sense. In a lengthy study he devoted to the subject of Caradisiac, Manuel Cailliot summed things up thus: ” With its brand image at half-staff, the diesel appears to be becoming much more affordable second-hand, having received higher ratings than petrol for decades. So there are good deals. »

Certainly a good deal, but considering that diesel, as indicated in the article in question, remains expensive to maintain, especially due to the high prices of certain spare parts, its resale becomes more difficult (especially for models beyond the Crit’Air 2 sticker ) and that anti-pollution legislation will block access to a growing number of urban areas.

For all these reasons, we are indeed witnessing the slow agony of a technology that, paradoxically, has never been more convenient and efficient than today.

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