Is Diesel Done

Is diesel done as a popular type of engine in passenger vehicles? And, going a step further, is diesel done (or, at least, on it’s way out the door) for even larger vehicles like semi trucks?

The evidence is mounting that, indeed, diesel engines are increasingly not welcome from a regulatory standpoint, and, from a consumer standpoint.

Cities worldwide are passing laws prohibiting diesel passenger vehicles from entering the city limits, and large countries like China and India are considering banning the sale of all diesel passenger vehicles in the future.

And, manufacturers are also backing away from diesel vehicles in a big way – reducing the number of vehicles in their lineups that offer diesel options, or, just eliminating diesel completely from their engine offerings. Volkswagen is the most high-profile example of this, but others are following, or strongly considering dropping diesel engines.

Why are diesels suddenly persona non grata to a lot of governments and manufacturers? In a word, emissions. Specifically, particulate emissions. It’s difficult for a diesel engine to meet current emissions standards, and those standards are going to become more stringent in most of the world in the next decade. Cities, and countries, are under intense pressure to reduce or eliminate the smoky haze that envelops their citizens as a result of air pollution, and diesel emissions are part of that equation, and getting rid of diesel emissions is part of the solution.

Fuel efficiency is a diesel’s strong suit, but emissions are it’s Achilles heel.

The other part of the competitive landscape that is working against diesels is the decreasing costs and increasing range of electric vehicles. Every day brings new advances in battery power, and another incremental reduction in cost, and these vehicles are zero emission.

Not to mention, quite powerful and fast, due to the “instant-on” nature of electric power.

“What about driving cross-country?”, you ask. Well, the increases in battery efficiency have made gas/electric hybrids that much better, too. What do you need a diesel for?

“Is diesel done?” starts looking more and more like a prescient question.

And it’s not just passenger vehicles anymore – Tesla recently unveiled their electric short-haul semi-truck, and, already has orders for it, even though it’s not being produced yet. Other truck manufacturers are right behind them.

“Is diesel done?” would have been a laughable question 10 years ago, but not now.

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