Growing sales of diesel SUVs are helping to prevent the European market share of the powertrain from sliding more than it already has in Europe. The continuing increase in popularity of compact SUVs from volume automakers such as the Volkswagen Tiguan and the Peugeot 3008 means that segment is now the largest for diesel sales, with 621,242 sold through 10 months of 2019, according to data from market researcher JATO Dynamics.
Between 2015 and 2018 diesel sales in the segment increased 19 percent, while elsewhere customers were abandoning the powertrain. The damage done by the VW Group emissions-cheating scandal, the threat of higher taxes and the growing number of bans in urban areas has caused a dramatic decline in diesel demand in the last four years.
Analyst firm LMC Automotive predicts the overall European diesel share will slip to 32 percent this year, down from a high of 56 percent in 2011. The downturn for diesels was at its most dramatic in 2018, when demand fell by more than a million units.
Automakers scrambled to react by increasing production of gasoline-powered vehicles, shutting down diesel-engine production lines, and bringing out new models without a diesel variant.
The biggest drop for diesels in terms of numbers came in the compact segment, Europe's second largest vehicle class overall, where sales of the powertrain declined by 45 percent between 2015 and 2018, according JATO figures.
The switch to gasoline wiped almost 600,000 diesel sales from the compact segment in 2018 compared with 2015 as the change in diesel share broadly mirrored the overall average, which slipped to 33 percent in 2018 from 53 percent in 2015.