Is This the End of Diesel? Only One in 20 Plans to Order New Diesel Cars

Recent studies indicate a startling shift in consumer preferences, with a mere 5% of individuals expressing intent to purchase a new diesel car. This significant decline in demand marks a stark departure from previous years when diesel cars reigned as the preferred choice among drivers. Get more information behind this shift and explore whether this could be the end of diesel.

The Rise of Electric Vehicles

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of electric vehicles on the road, with many drivers seeing them as a cleaner and more sustainable alternative to traditional combustion engines. The UK government has also announced plans to ban the sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030 as part of efforts to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

This push towards electrification has led to increased investment in electric vehicle infrastructure, such as charging stations, and has made it easier and more convenient for drivers to switch to electric vehicles. As a result, many people are choosing to opt for electric cars instead of diesel cars, contributing to the decline in diesel sales.


In 2015, a scandal involving Volkswagen (VW) brought the issue of emissions from diesel cars into the public eye. The German carmaker had fitted ‘defeat devices’ in its diesel cars, which could detect when an emissions test was being conducted and reduce the amount of pollution the vehicles produced. The scandal caused a huge uproar, with VW facing heavy fines and diesel claims, and a significant drop in demand for its diesel cars. It also brought attention to the fact that diesel cars produce more harmful pollutants than petrol cars, such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, which can not only contribute to air pollution but also cause respiratory issues.

Dieselgate had a significant impact on the automotive industry, especially in Europe, where diesel cars were a popular choice due to their fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions. Aside from VW, several other automakers are facing backlash. Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Vauxhall, and BMW emission claims are expected to grow in the near future.

Proof in the Figures

As part of their regular industry research, What Car? asked 910 potential buyers who were actively looking to place an order about their opinions on diesel cars and whether they planned to purchase one in the future. Only 5% of these respondents expressed interest in a new diesel car, while 21% of used car buyers were considering a diesel purchase.

Interestingly, the survey revealed that a staggering 90% of car buyers are open to considering fuel types other than diesel. Nearly 40% of respondents stated that they have changed their opinion on diesel fuel due to the recent revelations about its harmful pollutants.

About 34% of participants are avoiding diesel vehicles because they believe that they are not environmentally friendly. Additionally, 18% expressed the belief that petrol, hybrid, and battery-electric vehicles are now more cost-effective and therefore more appealing. Another 21% explained that diesel vehicles do not align with their transportation needs.

Official car registration records, as published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, reveal a noteworthy trend of UK motorists swiftly moving away from diesel vehicles and showing a greater interest in environmentally friendly alternatives. In the first quarter of 2022, there were 55,514 new diesel car registrations, while 77,064 fully electric vehicles were sold in the same period.

In comparison, by the end of April 2021, 104,168 diesel cars had been sold, while there were only 40,931 battery-electric vehicle registrations. This shift in sales comes after the Volkswagen emission-cheating scandal in 2015, which caused a significant decrease in the market share of diesel cars.

Can Diesel Survive?

With fewer people planning to buy diesel cars and the push towards electrification, many are questioning whether diesel can survive in the long term. While it is unlikely that diesel cars will disappear completely in the short term, they will need to adapt to remain relevant in the future.

This could mean investing in cleaner technology and working towards lower emissions, as well as exploring new markets and opportunities. There is still a place for diesel in heavy-duty vehicles, such as trucks and buses, where electric vehicles are not yet a viable option. However, to remain competitive, diesel manufacturers will need to innovate and embrace modern technologies and business models.

Bottom Line

The decline in diesel sales is a clear indication of the changing attitudes towards automotive technology. With the rise of electric vehicles and growing concerns about air pollution, many people are looking for cleaner and more sustainable alternatives to diesel. However, it is important to remember that diesel still has a role to play in certain sectors and industries. If diesel manufacturers are willing to adapt and innovate, there may still be a future for diesel in the automotive market.