2020 vision: the end of cheap Renault diesels?

  • Expensive Euro 7 regulations could make small diesels unviable
  • Renault bosses are evaluating dropping diesel Clios and Meganes
  • Could diesel become the preserve of upmarket, premium cars?

Spiralling engineering costs required to meet even more stringent Euro 7 exhaust emission regulations could signal the end of diesel-powered smaller cars, with Renault poised to be one of the first to stop selling them before 2020, according to a Reuters report.

Citing an early summer senior management meeting at the French giant, it is believed that without significant investment, diesel-engined versions of both the popular Renault Clio and Megane ranges would be unable to meet the next round of EU-imposed regulations in force from 2019, based on “real-world” rather than lab-condition tests.

Choosing the lower-cost option of discontinuing diesel-engined versions of those ranges and instead promoting its range of efficient petrol-powered models, as well as using its leading position in the zero-emission electric car market as a springboard, could prove to be a sensible move for Renault.

Not only Renault facing the diesel conundrum

Officially, Renault UK will only say that it “adapts its offer according to local requirements”, but given the market’s appetite for diesel-engined versions of Twingo-sized cars has shrunk dramatically in recent years due to the powerplants’ rising costs, a similar outcome for the models in the sizes above isn’t so unlikely if the trend continues.

Given the far-reaching outcry of Volkswagen’s ongoing Dieselgate scandal, it’s unlikely to be solely the French manufacturer that is reconsidering its diesel-engined position. Back in June 2016, VW’s chief executive Matthias Mueller pondered “whether it still makes sense to invest a lot of money in further developing diesel.”

Euro 7 regulations are unlikely to sound the death knell for diesel completely, but the expense of the technology required to make emissions clean enough could limit installation to premium-priced cars. Ironic considering how resistant some upmarket car brands were to adopt diesel engines in the first place.