Jaguar Land Rover sees future for diesel
Jaguar Land Rover has told fleets that there will still be a ‘key role’ for both internal combustion engines and diesel, despite widespread government pressure in favour of electrification.
Hybrid and battery-powered cars enjoy political support across Europe, but “diesel still offers the most commercially viable way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Electric vehicles cannot currently replace diesel,” said Scott Dicken, sales director, JLR.
Speaking to fleet managers at ACFO’s spring seminar in the UK, Dicken criticised the ‘demonisation of diesel’, which he said had become a huge destabilisation issue in the UK. The last two years have witnessed the country’s first increase in the average CO2 emissions of new cars sold, a scenario replicated across Europe, as fleets and private buyers switched to petrol and alternative power trains.
“Consumers are making decisions that are wrong for the environment and for them personally,” said Dicken. “Our view and our strategy is making sure customers have the right choice to have the right powertrain for them. We are not forcing customers into diesel or electrification products or petrol, we have to make sure they have the right product that suits their driving style.”
Given the high penetration of diesel in JLR’s range, particularly the SUVs of Land Rover and Range Rover, the manufacturer has weathered the diesel storm remarkably well, with its diesel sales down by only 2.9% last year. Sales of its petrol models, however, soared by over 59%, an indication that buyers are seeking alternatives to diesel.
In London, for example, which this month introduced an ultra low emission zone, half of all Range Rovers sold are now plug-in hybrid models, and by 2020 every JLR product will have some form of electrification in its range. The battery-powered Jaguar iPace is the reigning European Car of the Year and its sales volumes are growing, said Dicken.
But he also highlighted that the new Land Rover Discovery, due for a mid-cycle refresh, will be RDE2 compliant, with a level of emissions purity that will save British company car drivers money in their benefit in kind tax bills.