Are car dealers guilty of causing the diesel decline?

Are car dealers guilty of causing the diesel decline?

Are car dealers guilty of causing the diesel decline?

Over the past 18 months, I haven’t been able to go out that much, I haven’t had the three foreign holidays that my wife and I treat ourselves to, and even Christmas was a muted affair due to the restrictions on movement. So as a result, my bank account is looking considerably healthier than it would normally do. After some discussion with my wife, we’ve decided to change both of our cars, which is something we usually only do once every five or six years.


I have a previous generation Ford Kuga, and my wife has a Fiesta, both of them diesel. While I rack up a large mileage each year visiting clients on the continent – 25,000 to 30,000 per annum – my wife’s car does a more modest mileage, but almost all of them motorway miles when she visits our daughter in Manchester. Both of us had decided that we wanted to stick with diesel, despite the negative comments that I see in the media, and the catty comments from our friends. Diesel suits our lifestyle, and we like the way that they drive. We’ve not had a single problem with blocked diesel particulate filters, and we put that down to a spirited driving manner.

I already knew that the Fiesta was no longer produced as a diesel, but hoped that there might be one or two old models in stock that we could steal for a song. That, unfortunately, proved not to be the case. My wife borrowed a petrol mild hybrid Fiesta for 24 hours and decided that she didn’t like the way that it drove, with the strange running characteristics of the three-cylinder engine a deal breaker.

When it came to discussing the replacement of my car, I was surprised at how hard the salesperson tried to get me to ditch diesel and opt for a hybrid or plug-in hybrid. Despite telling him that our driveway is not attached to the house, and so it would be impossible to charge up an electrified car, he persisted in trying to give me the hard sell. In the end I walked out, after he told me that a diesel car isn’t going to be worth anything in a year’s time and that I was wasting my money if I bought one.

On our way home, we drove past our local Peugeot and Citroën dealer and stopped by to have a look. Within an hour, I had signed up for a 3008, and my wife had bought a 308 at a tremendous price. We saw that there was a new 308 coming soon and used it to our advantage to negotiate a £6,000 discount off of my wife’s car. Previously with the Fiesta, there was never a diesel automatic option, but with the 308, she has been able to opt for it, and so on the 1st September she will be the proud owner of a 308 Allure Premium BlueHDi automatic and I’ve got a 3008 GT BlueHDi automatic with the same engine. To say that we are chuffed is an understatement, and it’s the first time that I have bought a different make of car since my teenage years. I had always thought of myself as a Ford man through-and-through, but the latest buying experience was too much to bear. Ford’s loss is Peugeot’s gain. To cap it all, the Peugeot garage offered me £1,200 more for my Kuga than the Ford dealer, and my wife’s car was valued at £250 more than previously offered. At the time of writing, we’ve got two weeks until we can take delivery of our new cars, and we’ve never been so excited in our lives. I think my wife is more pleased than I am!

The point of this letter is to say that if I was easily led, I could have believed the scaremongering stories that the salesperson was peddling, and I’m sure that buyers that aren’t quite so strong willed will be persuaded. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is one of the significant reasons why the diesel market share is nosediving.

Thanks for a great magazine and keep up the good work. You’ve kept me entertained during the dark days of Covid, and long may it continue. 

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Graham Leigh Graham Leigh 1 month ago #

Thanks for your post, and I wish you and your wife happy motoring in your pair of Peugeots. You’re absolutely right, and I have been telling the car makers for some time that their salespeople are scaremongering and convincing buyers to ditch diesel. I have undertaken anonymous mystery shops and the advice to ditch diesel happens time after time. I guess the manufacturers don’t really care which form of propulsion is sold, as long as they get a sale. But in your case it has meant that a life-long Ford fan has been angered so much that they’ve bought cars from a different marque. I’m sure that this won’t be easy reading for the Managing Director of Ford UK. Best wishes

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Chris Rees Chris Rees 1 month ago #

Door open for death of diesel? Hope you’re keeping well in the extreme heat. I’ve managed to cope by buying an extra desk fan for the shed. I was at a barbecue over the weekend. One of the chaps at the gathering took great pleasure in telling me that the internal combustion engine is doomed and that I should buy an electric vehicle before my diesel car is run off the road by legislation, taxation and social pressure. He has bought a Polestar electric car, which he was keen to show to me. It looks good, but I’m more concerned about his comments about the death of the internal combustion engine. He said he had read a report in Autocar which suggests the government is being vague, leaving the door open for tighter restrictions. I know you don’t have a crystal ball, but I’d like some reassurances. Do I need to buy an electric car sooner rather than later? Yours concerned.

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Elliott Roberts Elliott Roberts 1 month ago #

Hope you enjoyed the barbecue. You have my sympathies, as I know what it’s like to be the resident ‘car man’ at a social event. I tend to give deliberately vague responses when friends or family ask me to recommend a new car. It’s like leaning against an open door – you can’t win! Anyway, I’m not sure if I can put your mind at rest, but I’ll give it a go. I read the Autocar interview with Rachel MacLean, the minister responsible for transport and decarbonisation. I think your Polestar chum is referring to a comment made about classic cars, rather than petrol and diesel cars in general. Specifically, this quote: ‘It’s important to be clear that while we’re phasing out the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, at this stage we don’t have any plans to actually ask people to remove existing or classic or older cars from the road.’ The vague part is ‘at this stage’. This suggests that changes could be in the offing. MacLean continued: ‘The existing policy is that obviously we won’t be allowing any new [petrol or diesel] vehicles to be sold [beyond 2030], but those existing vehicles can continue. It’s quite important, so hopefully I can say this and reassure people.’ Phrases like ‘existing policy’ and words like ‘hopefully’ do not inspire confidence. The chances are we’ll have a different government and a new set of ministers long before the 2030 ban, so a lot can, and probably will, change. In truth, the existing government is still looking at the legislation and infrastructure. The current charging network is nowhere near adequate for current needs, let alone the expected demand in 2030. Electric cars are too expensive, but only the bravest politician would price petrol and diesel cars out of the market without hefty incentives for electric adoption. Then there’s the millions of pounds and jobs generated by the classic and used car industry – this cannot and will not disappear overnight. I don’t doubt that diesel and petrol car drivers will face tougher penalties before 2030. I’d also expect more cities to ban anything other than zero emission cars from their centres to improve air quality. And don’t think for one minute that electric car drivers will have things their own way. You can expect existing purchase and tax incentives to be removed or reduced once we reach a certain tipping point. Personally, I wouldn’t rush into the purchase of an electric vehicle just yet. The Polestar 2 is a very good electric car, but it costs £40,000. EVs remain hideously expensive for the private motorist. Meanwhile, petrol and diesel cars have never been safer, more economical, or as well-equipped as they are in 2021. Have I reassured you, Dave? Maybe not, but I’d encourage you to avoid making any rash decisions. Just stick another sausage on the barbecue and chill out! Best regards.

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