With so much publicity around the growth in the sales of new electric cars, the one question that I’m regularly asked, is what diesel-powered cars are left any more? Rural drivers have favoured diesel cars due to their economy, but public opinion along with Irish Government and EU policy moves are reducing the availability of diesel engine cars on the Irish market.

This is happening despite the fact that 26,251 new car buyers took the diesel engine option so far in 2023 (see Table 1). This confirms that there is still strong demand at a time when diesel engines have got cleaner and more efficient, even if they are out of flavour in some quarters.

While the diesel market share is dropping, when you include the diesel hybrid and diesel hybrid plug-in sales, the drop in diesel sales is not as significant. The total diesel engine market is then 28,916 cars, a drop of 1.08% compared with 2022 (Table 2).

Against that background, I’ve taken a look at the market to see what is available to those who want to stay with diesel engines as their car’s power source. I’ve examined in some detail the Society of the Irish Motor Industry’s (SIMI’s) New Car Price Guide for October 2023, along with a trawl through many of the Irish car company websites to identify what’s now available in diesel power on the Irish market. The SIMI New Car Price Guides are published each month and posted on the website, which is the representative organisation for the motor industry in Ireland.

I’ve also looked closely at the SIMI new car sales statistics website called www.beepbeep.ie and looked at some trends in the market, in particular in relation to diesel car sales. This data is compiled from new car registrations provided by the Irish Revenue Commissioners.

Market view

This desktop research shows that there are now 2,211 new car buying choices on the Irish market, across all brands. Of these, there are 620 diesel car choices, or 28%, which looks attractive, until you drill further down into the figures.

Some car brands have completely moved away from diesel engines (see Table 3). The most notable of these is the Toyota brand, (apart from the Hilux and Land Cruiser), which has retained market leadership with no diesel engine offering. Other well-known car brands to cease offering a diesel engine car include Fiat, Honda, Jeep, Nissan, Renault, and Suzuki. These have all migrated to either petrol, or petrol hybrid, or battery electric cars in their offers.

Some of the new brands do not have any internal combustion engine (ICE) offering. These include BYD, MG, ORA and Polestar, which only offer battery electric cars. All four are Chinese manufactured cars.

The top four so-called premium brands of Audi, BMW, Land Rover, and Mercedes-Benz each have the highest number of diesel engine car choices. If you take these expensive car brand options out of the running, the availability of diesel engines across all new cars drops to 18%. Between them, these premium brands account for 59% of the diesel engine options on cars currently available on the Irish new car market.

For most new car buyers, the diesel car choices are dwindling fast. Among the volume selling brands, such as Volkswagen, Hyundai, Skoda, Kia, and Ford, the diesel engine choices are less and less. Volkswagen diesel choice is now at 21% and falling, while the only Ford car available in Ireland with a diesel engine is the Focus and that’s soon to be replaced and there won’t be a diesel option available after that. For those looking to buy a diesel car, the highest availability among the mainstream brands is with SEAT and Skoda, which are part of the Volkswagen group. Citroën, Opel and Peugeot, all part of the new Stellantis Group, each have diesel car choices available using well-proven engine technology. Kia still has a small number of diesel options, as does Hyundai to a lesser extent. The availability of new diesel engine cars is being forced downwards by legislation right across Europe. The discussion about what engine choice or battery power provides the best emission options is a deeper one – for another article.

The message for new car buyers going into 2024, is that diesel car choices on the Irish market are declining rapidly. Those with deep pockets to buy premium brand diesel-powered cars have more choices in the short-term. For the rest of us, just 18% of new car choices have a diesel engine option. So, if you have diesel power as your preferred fuel choice, it’s time to make your mind up, as the options are running out.