We all know that the future of vehicle engines will not involve diesel or petrol – fossil fuels are not only running out, but emissions-reducing policies are also pushing manufacturers (and consumers) to embrace the electric vehicle.
But at the current time we’re not quite there yet. There may be lots of media coverage of these cleaner and greener vehicles, there is a good deal more choice than the Prius or a Tesla in today’s marketplace, and the beginnings of a charging infrastructure is starting to appear in the UK – but the fact remains that we’re still in a transitional phase.
Diesel has been the fuel of choice for many for years, but against this backdrop of news about exciting new technology, emissions concerns (and RFL rises) have made it appear less appealing in recent times. However, despite some sensational headlines to the contrary, diesel certainly isn’t dead.
Diesel is still often the most cost-efficient option for those racking up significant mileage, or for larger, heavier vehicles such as 4x4s, SUVs and pick-ups – especially if you’re towing or transporting a load, in which case it’s still really the only suitable choice. The latest Euro 6 engines are comparable with petrol for emissions, but with lower CO2 and better fuel consumption, and of course tougher legislation will lead manufacturers to meet even stricter standards when Euro 7 and Euro 8 compliance is required.
Engineering innovation doesn’t just extend to making modern diesel engines cleaner. A new breed of hybrids is emerging as manufacturers start to shift their thinking to electric power. Ford, Kia, Volvo, VW and Audi have already launched ‘mild’ hybrids, in which the electric motor is used to help start the vehicle moving, although the diesel engine still does most of the work. This support from battery power means the engine doesn’t have to work so hard, and so better fuel economy and lower emissions can be achieved.
I don’t see diesel disappearing from the engine options any time soon, so you can buy a new diesel vehicle with confidence – yes, the electric choice is likely to expand in the coming years, both in terms of electric-assistance and all-electric engines, but the likelihood is these will be sold alongside petrol and diesel powertrains, not instead of them.