Diesel cars will account for 30 percent of the European market by 2002 - a 22 percent increase over last year, according to a new study from J.D. Power-LMC.
The biggest volume growth will occur in Germany, France and Spain in the short term, with the UK market recovering in the medium term.
'Recent improvements to diesel engines, especially in the field of fuel delivery and injection systems, have further widened the fuel efficiency gap between diesel and petrol cars, as well as enhancing performance and refinement,' said a J.D. Power spokesman. 'Benefits derived from direct-injection diesel engines are also offsetting the penal diesel taxes levied in several European countries.
'Solutions to long-standing health concerns over diesel emissions, especially in the area of particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen, are becoming economically available.'
The survey predicts sales of diesel cars in Europe will increase from 1998's level of 3.6 million units to 4.4 million by 2002. Diesel share in countries like Austria, Spain and Belgium is already above 50 percent of the entire market.