20 November 1998

PSA Peugeot Citroen, the biggest manufacturer of diesel powered cars, said it expects European sales of diesel cars to swell to one in three cars by the year 2005. That figure compares with 23%, or less than one in four today, and 14% in 1990. Diesel engines are more fuel efficient than engines which run on gasoline and emit fewer pollutants linked to the global “greenhouse effect,” said Chairman Jean-Martin Folz.

The group's Tremery plant in eastern France, the biggest diesel engine factory in the world, produced 1.1 million engines in 1997. It is expected to turn out 1.2 million in 1998 after the launch in September of a High pressure Direct Injection (HDI) diesel engine developed by Peugeot and the common rail fuel injction system supplier Bosch.

According to Peugeot, the new engine consumes 20% less fuel than its predecessors and 40% less fuel than a gasoline engine. It emits two-thirds fewer particulates than older diesel engines, but still far more than gasoline engines.

“In February, we said PSA was working on a particulate filter to bring a definitive response to concerns about diesel. The project's advancing, it's advancing well, and we expect to reach our target (launch date) of end-1999, 2000,” Folz said.

In the United States, which traditionally shunned diesel, auto makers and officials are taking another look at its advantages, Folz said. Japan's auto industry, notably Toyota, is also developing its diesel technology. He said diesel was coming back into favor, despite concerns about particulates, because it produces fewer emissions of carbon dioxide and hydrocarbons, which are believed to contribute to the greenhouse effect associated with global warming.

In Europe, Austria has the highest percentage of diesel powered cars—55%, followed by Belgium with 51%, Spain with 47% and France with 40%.