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Numerical sales of diesel-powered passenger cars in Australia have about halved over the past decade – though not from anything resembling a high base.

By passenger cars we refer to hatches, sedans, coupes, convertibles and people-movers – vehicles that are largely declining across the board as SUVs eat their market, regardless of engine type.

While many may assume it’s bad press from issues such as the Volkswagen scandal, there’s actually little correlation. A more obvious factor is the greater efficiency of modern petrol engines.

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According to industry figures, 140,779 passenger cars have been sold this year to the end of April, with just 4.3 per cent, or 6046, using diesel engines. This contrasts to 132,000 petrols and 3477 hybrids. 

The proportion of diesel passenger cars sold over the same four-month period in earlier years fitted looks like the following. Note the decline in overall passenger sales, as well.

  • 2017: 140,779 passenger car sales, 4.3 per cent diesel (6046 units)
  • 2016: 155,095 passenger car sales, 4.5 per cent diesel (7028 units)
  • 2015: 164,774 passenger car sales, 4.7 per cent diesel (7734 units)
  • 2014: 171,344 passenger car sales, 6.3 per cent diesel (10,814 units)
  • 2013: 176,803 passenger car sales, 6.8 per cent diesel (12,029 units)
  • 2012: 180,231 passenger car sales, 8.1 per cent diesel (14,674 units)
  • 2011: 180,787 passenger car sales, 7.8 per cent diesel (14,054 units)
  • 2010: 192,282 passenger cars sold, 7.7 per cent diesel (14,804 units)
  • 2009: 163,593 passenger cars sold, 6.4 per cent diesel (10,485 units)
  • 2008: 202,989 passenger cars sold, 5.9 per cent diesel (11,923 units)

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For context, the total number of SUVs sold this year so far sits at 142,476 (the first time they’ve overtaken passenger cars). The proportion with diesel engines sits at 32 per cent, compared to 67 per cent petrol, and negligible hybrid/EV sales.

The number of light commercial vehicles sold is 69,557 (including the top-two-selling vehicles overall, the HiLux and Ranger). Here, the diesel proportion is a very high 92 per cent for obvious reasons.

MORE: car industry sales data 




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