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Automakers dump diesel engines

DIESEL cars will be no more in a few years time. They will become a memory, and will soon be in the same dustbin of history with cassette tapes, hard-line telephones and Walkmans and fax machines among others.

Andrew Muzamhindo :Analyst

Major manufacturers are turning their backs on this “dirty” fuel. As a consumer it is important that you position yourself in anticipation of this process. The next 10 years will see most European countries, push towards electric and ever-decreasing emissions tolerances. The future looks dark for diesel.

The phrase “clean environment” used to be a buzz word. It is now reality. The world desires clean. And how do we achieve that without restricting our mobility? Diesel fuel has been a huge part of the automotive industry.

The performance this fuel type brings to the table and its relative fuel economy made diesel a favourite among car-buyers, to the point that almost every brand has a diesel option in their vehicle line-up.

China, the world’s biggest car market, plans to ban the production and sale of diesel and petrol cars and vans. China made 32 million cars last year, almost a third of the global total.

Both the UK and France have already announced plans to ban new diesel and petrol vehicles by 2040, as part of efforts to reduce pollution and carbon emissions.

Let us look at some of the manufacturers that are ditching diesel.

The FCA Group will dump diesel-powered cars. They will be replaced by hybrid plug-in and electric vehicles. Included in this plan are Alfa Romeo and its range of sultry Italian cars.

Fiat has been specialising in making small cars in which electric and hybrid plug-ins are becoming a trend. The Italian brand has announced that it will halt making diesel-powered cars by 2022.

Jeep has massive plans for its models but diesel is not part of it. Plans are afoot to launch models that use only blend. The end game will see the introduction of electrified cars only from Jeep. There is a seven-seater Grand Cherokee on the cards. Jeep also plans to launch 10 new models by 2022 all electrified from head to toe.

Jeep means business. The most powerful Jeep Wrangler variant is a hybrid. Dubbed the 4xe (that is pronounced “four-by-E”), the Wrangler’s latest powerplant joins the model’s 285-hp 3.6-litre V-6, 270-hp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder, and 260-hp turbo-diesel 3.0-litre V-6.

Who would have thought Jeep was ever going to go hybrid and still remain segment leader performance wise?

Manfred Chaniwa, the business development manager at Zimoco, the local Jeep dealership voiced his excitement about the development. “Imagine off-roading in a Wrangler under battery-only momentum. He spoke of pairing EV silence with the pleasure of being in the backcountry with the doors removed, the roof open, and the Wrangler crawling up a slick rock. To him, that would make the experience much closer to nature. Well, it does make sense if you look at it that way.

Mitsubishi will not be left behind. The Japanese brand will join the crusade against diesel, joining Suzuki, Toyota, and Nissan in the list. The ban is enforced particularly in the United Kingdom and Germany, where Mitsubishi has already stopped selling diesel-powered cars. However, diesel-fed pickup trucks and light commercial vehicles are still being sold for the time being.

Porsche has resolved to electrify the upcoming Taycan and Mission E Cross Turismo, ultimately ditching diesel in the process. The brand sees that the scandals brought about by dieselgate proved to tarnish the fuel type’s popularity, and the marque is not having any of that.

Nissan Leaf is the best-selling electric car in the world. With that, the Japanese brand looks to bank on that premise, ditching diesel in the process. It has reportedly announced that it will end diesel engine development, with commercial vehicles to use diesel power plant sourced from other brands.

Toyota will get rid of diesel engines in its vehicle line-up. This is due to the fact that the demand for diesel-fed cars is continually dwindling. With that, the Japanese marque will proceed on making petrol-powered hybrid models moving forward.

Mercedes Benz will not have diesel and petrol cars within the next 20 years. The decision to drop internal combustion for good is part of the German car maker’s “Ambition2039” plans, which aim to transform the brand into a carbon-neutral company. The car maker will make the permanent switch to pure-electric power.

Volkswagen paid more than US$15 billion to settle lawsuits and regulatory fines over its falsification of emissions tests that were submitted to regulatory bodies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Volkswagen debacle has pushed more manufacturers to shun diesel engines.

If you care about urban air quality, people with respiratory problems or children’s long-term health then it is time to move away from diesel engines. Diesel cars produce higher levels of nitrogen oxides which are a significant contributor to pollution in cities and can cause respiratory diseases. Even if the latest technologies are cleaner, they are not clean enough, particularly if the cars are not well-maintained and run mainly on short and cold local journeys.

There is no going back on cleaner fuels. As Zimbabweans we need to start positioning ourselves for these changes. Most of all we must start taking positions so that when the winds of change blow, we can adjust our sails accordingly.
andrew@muzamhindo.com

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