French manufacturer Peugeot says that while it will continue to sell diesel vehicles across multiple markets, it has stopped its R&D spend into the technology as it shifts focus to electrification.
Speaking to CarAdvice at the Paris motor show this week, Peugeot’s head of future product, Laurent Blanchard, said that with declining sales of diesel vehicles even in the once popular European market, it now makes sense to shift the brand's resources towards propulsion technologies of the future.
“In Europe, we are coming from 50 per cent [diesel sales] to today more or less at 36 per cent,” Blanchard said.
“That indicates to us that won’t stop our diesel engines, no reason to stop at the moment, so we will continue, but we won’t invest more in diesel engines because we would prefer to invest in plug-in hybrid or-battery electric vehicles, which are the energies of the future, than on diesel.”
The French brand will present an electrified solution across all its models by 2019, meaning that every model in the range will have either a plug-in hybrid or full-electric variant. Some of these models may also be mild hybrids, without the plug-in component and a lower electric range.
Peugeot’s CEO, Jean-Phillipe Imparato, said that whilst the brand hopes to remain powertrain agnostic – delivering a car and letting the customer pick the powertrain – it's shifting its focus away from diesel technologies.
“We are putting our weight on electric vehicles and plug-in electric vehicles,’ Imparato said.
“But the only guy who will stop the diesel is the customer. In Africa now, you must sell diesel. In light commercial vehicles, you must sell diesel. The diesel is [still] very important for us.”
Peugeot’s plan is to be ready when regulations come in that may for example ban diesel vehicles in city centres. But these changes will be very market specific.
Interestingly, Peugeot believes that it only really makes sense for small cars to be electrified for the time being, with its larger SUV and sedan/wagon vehicles likely to be plug-in hybrids for the foreseeable future.
Sales of Peugeot’s most popular model in Australia, the 3008 SUV (above), are roughly about 10 per cent diesel with the majority of buyers picking the turbocharged petrol engine instead – part of this is the fact only the top-spec model is offered with an oiler.
The decline of diesel vehicles globally can be linked back to the dieselgate saga at Volkswagen, which has led to global markets tightening regulations around CO2 output and changing measuring methodology. The consumer taste for diesel-powered vehicles has been on a steady decline in advanced markets since 2015.