But what are people buying instead?
With the exception of pickup trucks, diesel is as good as dead in the United States. There are a few stragglers continuing to sell diesel passenger cars but many automakers have already dropped diesel models from their lineups. Even in Europe, where diesel has historically been very popular, automakers are starting to consign diesel to the history books in order to focus on plug-ins and electric cars.
With countries such as the UK planning to ban gasoline and diesel cars by 2040, it makes sense for automakers to shift their focus. According to Autocar, European diesel sales fell in 2018 as gas-powered and electric cars became more popular.
Demand for diesel cars fell in 20 out of 27 European countries, with the strongest decline of 30% coming in the UK. Diesel still made up 35% of total sales in Europe, which was the lowest figure since 2001. Many people turned to gas-engined cars instead of diesel, as evidenced by 57% of European sales being made up of gas-powered vehicles. Around one million more gas-powered cars were sold in 2018 compared to 2017.
Though the segment didn't grow as quickly as gas-engined cars, alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) such as electric vehicles, also rose by a little over 200,000 units in 2018. With 944,800 registrations in 2018, AFVs now make up 6.8% of the European car market.
Within the AFV segment, the demand for electric vehicles rose by 47% to 195,300 units, making them more popular than plug-in hybrids with only 180,000 units sold. Conventional hybrids still outsold EVs and plug-ins combined with 555,000 units, an increase of 24% from 2017.
Even though its ID range of EVs is still a few years away, Volkswagen remained the top-selling automaker in Europe with 1,746,411 registrations. Renault came in second with 1,099,289 registrations and Ford placed third with 1,014,190. VW even dominated on an individual model basis with two of the three best-selling cars in Europe. The Golf was Europe's best-selling vehicle while the Polo came in third behind the Renault Clio.