Claims that ‘diesel is dead’ are far too extreme.
That’s the verdict of a senior Volkswagen executive in Ireland in response to Independent Motors as the campaign is ramped up by Toyota in particular.
Gerrit Heimberg, Volkswagen Ireland chief, told us the ‘dead’ claims are extreme as current (EU6) diesels are super clean and highly efficient.
They are also part of motoring’s drive to meet EU CO2 targets, he said, warning: “If we didn’t have the diesel it would be difficult to meet EU regulations.”
Mr Heimberg conceded that some people don’t need diesel.
“But we are convinced that with bigger cars there is a need and a reason to have diesel engines. We believe there is still a large market for diesel,” the VW chief said.
He added the ‘diesel is dead’ campaign is similar to going from one extreme to the other when people who didn’t need a diesel car bought it anyway.
He forecast that diesel will be in use “way beyond” 2020 – a watershed year when lots of automakers are bringing electrified cars to the market.
“We (Volkswagen) don’t share the extreme assessments (about diesel’s demise) especially in rural areas,” he said.
Volkswagen suffered only a minor drop in the percentage of diesel sales last year. The market-average drop was from 70pc to 65pc, but VW’s was only 1.7pc off the previous year.
“We see a decrease but it would be irresponsible to say anything other than we see ‘stable demand’ for diesels well into the future,” the chief said.
On other fronts: VW’s ‘scrappage scheme’ has been extended to the end of March.
And Mr Heimberg seemed to suggest that the level of secondhand imports – which comprise a high volume of used Volkswagens – will continue at 2017 levels.