Diesel Descent: Facing Extinction in the Electric Revolution

As diesel’s dominance dwindles, what’s next for current owners and those eyeing the used diesel car market?

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The Diesel Dilemma: Navigating a Shrinking Market Amid EV Surge

The once-thriving UK diesel car market faces a stark future, with a steep decline anticipated over the next few years. From the front lines, my latest dive into Cox Automotive’s projections shows a diesel market share plummeting to a mere 3% by 2028. This alarming drop is largely driven by the government’s forceful push towards a zero-emissions future.

Beginning this year, the Zero-Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Mandate has kicked into high gear, putting pressure on manufacturers to ramp up their sales of emission-free vehicles or face hefty fines. Just a few years ago, in 2024, diesel cars held a 6% market share with over 121,000 units sold. Fast forward to 2028, and we’re looking at a dramatic halving of these numbers, reflecting a broader move away from traditional internal combustion engines.

The landscape is shifting under our feet, not just for diesel but for petrol vehicles too, which are also expected to see their market share diminish by 12% in the same timeframe. It seems like only yesterday when diesels dominated with nearly 1.3 million vehicles in 2016; now, they’re on a precipitous decline. This isn’t just about government policies; it’s also about changing consumer attitudes, with many people now prioritising greener and more economical vehicle options.

For those of us with diesel cars in the driveway or considering a used diesel purchase, this forecast signals an urgent need to rethink our choices. With new diesel car sales to be banned entirely by 2035, the long-term prospects for diesel technology are dimming. Although used diesels will remain legal to trade and drive, their fading popularity could soon impact everything from resale values to parts availability.

This transformation is more than just an industry trend; it’s a fundamental shift in the UK automotive market as we adapt to new environmental and technological demands. For diesel car owners and used market shoppers, staying informed about these changes is more crucial than ever to make savvy decisions about future vehicle investments.

Diesel Drivers: What’s Your Next Move?

For existing diesel vehicle owners and potential buyers in the used car market, the landscape is changing rapidly. The impending reduction in diesel market share, exacerbated by stringent zero-emission mandates, signals a critical juncture. Here’s what you need to know to navigate these turbulent times without losing out.

Strategies for Diesel Car Owners and Buyers

1. Timing Your Sale or Purchase:

With the diesel market contracting, now might be the time to sell or upgrade before values potentially decrease further. For those considering a diesel purchase, short-term practicality could be balanced against long-term resale concerns.

2. Exploring Alternative Options:

Consider hybrid vehicles, which are expected to represent 25% of new registrations by 2027. Hybrids offer a middle ground, retaining traditional fuel while embracing electric capabilities, thereby potentially extending the vehicle’s economic and functional lifespan amidst evolving regulations.

3. Keeping Informed on Legislative Changes:

Stay updated with the latest government incentives and tax implications for diesel vehicles. Awareness of the shifting regulatory environment can help you make more informed decisions about whether to hold onto your diesel car or transition to an alternative.

4. Consider Longevity and Usage:

Evaluate how the decreasing popularity of diesel impacts your vehicle usage, especially if you rely on it for business or long-distance travel. As manufacturers phase out diesel models, maintenance and parts could become more challenging to source.

The narrative surrounding diesel cars in the UK is undeniably shifting. As Cox Automotive highlights, the once-dominant diesel is giving way to a market eager to embrace electric and hybrid vehicles, with significant implications for the used car market. For those invested in diesel, whether through ownership or potential purchase, the time to plan and act strategically is now to ensure value and viability in an increasingly electric future.