Japanese auto manufacturer Nissan has announced that it will gradually wind down the sale of its diesel cars in Europe. Nissan cited slumping sales and increasing taxes as a result of the fallout from the Volkswagen scandal. The company has partnered with French car manufacturer Renault in Europe to produce a large number of cars of different designs. A Nissan spokeswoman indicated that the reduction in diesel vehicles will be gradual.
Worldwide, the cost of diesel fuel is lower than gasoline resulting in lower fuel expenses, making diesel-powered vehicles desirable. Adding to their popularity, diesel cars were supposed to have lower emissions, reducing environmental pollution. However, the industry was rocked by the Volkswagen Diesel Scandal in 2015 when the Environmental Protection Agency found that Volkswagen’s diesel cars sold in America had “cheating” software built into their computers which allowed the car to automatically and temporarily reduce its emissions when the car was being tested.
Cars fitted with Volkswagen’s diesel engines, including some Audi models, could detect when the car was being tested and would greatly reduce its emissions. However, when returned to normal road use the car would switch out of “cheat mode” emitting pollutants like nitrogen oxide at levels more than 40 times higher than permitted. Volkswagen admitted to modifying the emissions control systems in about 550,000 vehicles sold in the US since 2008 with their 2.0-liter diesel engine. As many as 11 million vehicles worldwide may be affected. Volkswagen was forced to to recall a large number of diesel vehicles and agreed to a $14.7 billion settlement.
The decision by Nissan to reduce and eventually stop manufacturing diesel vehicles is likely to affect its factory in Sunderland, which is the largest automotive manufacturing facility in Britain. Some jobs at the factory are likely to be eliminated. Nissan expects that those who currently own diesel vehicles will replace them with non-polluting hybrid and electric vehicles when they wish to replace their existing vehicle.
Other major car manufacturers like Toyota and Fiat have also announced that they will stop selling diesel vehicles in near future, with Toyota stating that their diesel cars would no longer be available in Europe at the end of 2018. Nissan has not specified any time frame for ending production of diesel cars.