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Diesel future in the fleet: not at the end

The diesel is becoming less important, but it is far from over. It is indispensable in many fleets and will remain so for the time being.

The diesel has been on the defensive since 2015. Up until this fateful year, it was considered to be the almost perfect drive, after all it is basically economical, emits correspondingly little greenhouse gas and guarantees enormous ranges. In addition, as a turbo, it effortlessly shakes out a mountain of torque from its sleeve, which ensures light-footedness, no matter how heavily a car is loaded or how large the trailer load is.

Since the diesel scandal, these arguments seem to have lost their meaning. The compression-ignition engine is on the decline throughout Europe. Older diesels are locked out of numerous metropolises with entry bans, and politicians are firing all their guns to get e-mobility into position. The reaction of the manufacturers is a big string concert. The number of diesel models available is shrinking, while the number of car manufacturers without diesel in their range is growing rapidly.

The diesel remains important

In the range of many importers, above all Honda, Nissan and Toyota, there are practically no more diesels to be found. Mazda, Renault and Volvo have also announced that they will drastically reduce the number of diesel engines. Diesel erosion can even be seen in the TDI brand Audi. In 2019, people in Ingolstadt were still proud of the V8 TDI in the Q8, now it's history. Today, a petrol hybrid takes its place. But if you look closely, you will also discover that the number of diesel models has increased in some model series. These include the Audi A4 50 TDI, BMW's M340d, and the VW Passat now has more diesel variants than a year ago. Mercedes takes a different approach and combines the diesel with an electric motor to create a plug-in hybrid, for example in the E-Class 300 de.

In fact, the bad image of diesels has long since ceased to be justified. Measurements by auto motor und sport and the emissions experts from Emissions Analytics show how clean modern EU 6d diesel engines run. Their emissions of particles and nitrogen oxides are far below the legal requirements. Driving these models through cities with high levels of pollution, the exhaust gases are cleaner than the intake air. In terms of sustainability, the current self-igniters on the market certainly no longer have to hide from electrified drives.

Nevertheless, the trend away from diesel is obvious. In 2015, three out of four fleet vehicles in Germany were still diesel, but last year it was only every second vehicle, while e-cars have gained massively in importance. Dataforce Managing Director Marc Odinius: "In purely arithmetical terms, this trend would result in 100 percent electric cars for new company cars at the beginning of 2025. But it won't be that easy.The individual needs of the fleets are too different for that." Because there are still no models in the e-car selection, in the segment of vans up to 2.5 tons and especially in the middle class.

Armin Villinger, Head of Volkswagen Leasing GmbH: " Commercial customers are very interested in electric vehicles. But it will be a while before this high demand is actually reflected in the portfolio." Diesel is still anything but unimportant at VW: "Overall, diesel still plays the most dominant role in the Volkswagen Leasing portfolio. This is mainly due to the large proportion of commercial customers in the portfolio." Two out of three Passats leave the factory as a TDI.

For the fleet managers who calculate sharply, the diesel remains the first choice in many cases, even if the increasingly complex exhaust gas aftertreatment makes it continuously more expensive has made. Its efficiency is unbeatable. Compared to the petrol engine, it is still clearly more economical. Compared to the pure electric car, it is more popular with frequent drivers because they often cannot incorporate frequent recharging and looking for charging stations into their daily routine comes that frequent use of fast chargers can be expensive.

But not only professionals continue to value diesel, as statements by Sixt show. In the classic rental business, diesel is still in high demand, while the importance of e-cars is more in the Car sharing niche is growing

CO2 savings potential

The fact that diesel was treated so badly can still turn out to be a problem isen, because it is urgently needed on the road to exploit the full CO2 savings potential of mobility. After all, the trend in some fleets is moving away from diesel to petrol engines, and this is countering companies' efforts to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas.

Plug-in hybrids are obviously not an alternative in many fleets. A study by the ISI Fraunhofer Institute shows that plug-in hybrids used for work only cover around 18 percent of their driving distance with electricity and therefore emit four times as much CO2 as the standard values ​​suggest. Fleet managers who do not want to get the reputation of being greenwashers should therefore continue to rely on diesel.

Less diesel in fleets

,In the latest figures, the analysts from Dataforce see a sharply decreasing importance of diesel in the relevant fleets in Germany. In their estimation, e-cars and plug-in hybrids will already dominate the market by 2025, provided that the charging infrastructure grows with them.

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