20 December 2004
The share of diesels in the new passenger car market in Western Europe has reached an all-time high, according to the market data published by Robert Bosch GmbH. In October 2004, 51.9% of all newly registered passenger cars were equipped with a diesel engine.
The share of diesels has been growing in all classes of vehicles. According to the Bosch statistics, diesels account for 62.5% of vehicles in the upper middle-class, and for 61.4% in the middle-class. The highest growth rates were registered for high-end cars, where the diesel share increased by 9 percentage points to 44.4%, and in the compact class with a 7.1 percentage point increase to 33.2%.
The diesel share in Germany has also reached a new record at 47.9% in October 2004, up from 41.5% in October 2003. The highest diesel share for newly registered cars of more than 70% were recorded in Austria, Belgium and France. The share of diesels increased by 7.5% in the UK and Italy. In the UK, the numbers came to 37.1%—with only 29.6% in October of 2003—and in Italy, the numbers increased from 52.9% to 60.4%.
The continuous increase of the diesel share has been driven by their superior fuel economy—some 30% less fuel consumption in comparison to gasoline vehicles—and the corresponding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, as well as by the good performance of advanced diesel cars.
However, increased usage of diesels has resulted in particulate matter (PM) emissions, which have been identified as a public heath concern by the European Commission, by the German Environment Ministry, and by authorities in several other countries. It is expected that the Euro 5 emission standards, to be proposed in 2005, will make it necessary to fit all new diesel cars with particulate filters. In the meantime, car manufacturers increasingly introduce particulate filters on a voluntary basis. First Peugeot cars were fitted with filters in 2000. German manufacturers introduced filters this year on a number of Euro 4 vehicles, and intend to use them in all new car models by 2009. Advanced particulate filter systems in passenger cars lower PM emissions below typical urban background levels, i.e., the exhaust gas contains less PM than the intake air supplied to the engine.