European buyers appear to be losing their love of diesels in the wake of the Volkswagen Group emissions scandal.
Sales of diesel cars have accounted for more than 50 percent of the region's new-car market in recent years. EU governments have promoted the powertrain with incentives and low diesel fuel prices to help reduce emissions of CO2, a gas blamed for climate change. Diesels are more fuel efficient than gasoline cars so they emit less CO2.
But diesel's share fell to below 50 percent of the western European market in April as more buyers shifted to gasoline and alternative fuels, according to figures from analysts LMC Automotive. Diesel's share declined by 2.2 percentage points to 50.1 percent in the first four months and by 3.1 percent to 49.7 percent in April, LMC said.
Western Europe's total new-car market including all powertrain types was 4.87 million in the first four months, up 7.7. percent, and 1.21 million, up 8 percent, last month, LMC figures show.
Diesel cars have been hit by negative publicity after VW Group admitted to rigging engine software systems in 11 million of its diesels worldwide including 8.5 million in Europe. VW engineers came up with the cheat to meet strict limits in the U.S. for emissions for health-harming NOx pollutants, but the scandal has since spread globally.
Smaller diesels hit
The sharpest decline in diesel sales was in the subcompact, compact hatchback, and small minivan segments, LMC said.