West European diesel car sales mix fell by just 1ppt during the last 6-months
Western Europe’s diesel mix of new car sales reached just 35.7 per cent in August according to provisional AID data, its lowest point since the start of the diesel scandal marking its third anniversary last week. The last time Western Europe’s annual diesel sales mix fell below 36 per cent was close on to 20 years ago at the turn of the new millennium. However the significance of this is not the diesel market’s continued fall but the slowing pace of this fall.
During the past six months between March and August, the diesel sales share of new car sales in Western Europe fell by just 1 percentage point. During the same 6-month period last year it fell by almost 3 percentage points.
In Western Europe’s largest passenger car market and largest diesel car market in volume terms - Germany - soaking up close onto one third of the region’s diesel sales, the diesel mix of new car sales rose during the last three consecutive months from 31.1 per cent in June to 32.6 per cent in August.
In Germany VW’s diesel mix of new car sales boomed in fact. In August the VW brand recorded its highest diesel sales mix since October 2017. The 41.4 percent diesel mix of its sales in August was far above the 32.6 percent national German average during the same month. At the start of the year the difference in VW’s and the German average was just 2.3 percentage points greater. Looking at August in more detail, German Passat diesel mix remained above 75 per cent while the diesel mix of Golf sales, Germany’s way and ahead top selling vehicle, reached 36.3 percent according to KBA data.
Pause for breath caused by NEDC discounts?
The increasing mix of new diesel car sales during the last month was likely caused by heavy discounting by manufacturers in an effort to register NEDC vehicles it had in stock - presumably a large number of unpopular diesel vehicles - before WLTP regulations came into force for newly manufactured vehicles from September 1, although in exceptional circumstances vehicles in stock can still be sold for one more year.
If this NEDC/WLTP influence really is the case for this deceleration in diesel’s demise we can expect to see a drop in diesel car sales mix in Germany over the next few months and towards the end of year in particular as normal business resumes.