Japanese car-maker Toyota has announced plans to phase out the production of diesel passenger cars from the European market by the end of 2018.
The manufacturer will instead focus on the production of hybrid-electric and petrol powertrains for its new cars, it announced at an executive meeting at the Geneva Motor Show yesterday (5 March).
According to the company, strong consumer demand for hybrid electric versions of its core models has prompted the move.
In 2017, hybrid electric vehicles accounted for 41% of Toyota Motor Europes total sales, the company has reported, an increase of 38% year-on-year to a total of 406,000 units. This compared to a 10% drop in sales of diesel cars during the year.
At the forefront of Toyotas new, diesel-free strategy is the new generation Auris, to be built at the companys manufacturing plant at Burnaston, Derbyshire, which will be offered with only petrol and hybrid-electric powertrains.
Despite phasing out diesel on its passenger car range, Toyota will continue to offer diesel engines in commercial vehicles, which the Hilux, Proace and Land Cruiser models.
Announcing the plans, Johan van Zyl, President and chief executive of Toyota Motor Europe, said: Toyota has been pioneering hybrid electric vehicle technology for more than 20 years. For several years, HEVs [Hybrid electric vehicles] have been the dominant powertrain where they have been offered.
In our latest new model, the Toyota C-HR, HEVs accounted for 78% of sales last year.
As part of our electrified vehicle strategy, we are progressively expanding our HEV offering with a second, more powerful 2.0-litre engine. Starting with the new generation Auris, this expanded HEV line-up is a natural reaction to our passenger car customers demands.
Toyotas HEV mix in passenger cars reached equality with the diesel mix in 2015. Since then, HEV sales have substantially exceeded those of our diesels. In commercial vehicles, where personal and business needs (for example, torque and payload) remain, we will continue to offer the latest technology diesels.
Sales of new diesel cars continue to come under pressure with some car makers considering that greater public concern over air quality is leading consumers to turn away from new diesel cars.
Latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) in the UK yesterday suggest that the decline in diesel car sales in the UK has continued, with diesel sales having dropped by around 25% at the start of 2018 compared to the first two months in 2017, whilst petrol and plug-in vehicle sales have risen.