5 Reasons Why It’s Time For Diesel Cars To Die

The time of the diesel engine is over. The age of electric has begun...
5 Reasons Why It’s Time For Diesel Cars To Die

Diesel fans, your days are numbered.

Apologies if that sounds a bit harsh. It’s not that I hate diesels. Actually, I do hate diesels, but not in a rage-inducing you-just-opened-your-door-into-my-fender way. It’s more like the oddball uncle you tolerate at family gatherings, the one who acts like a total douche but doesn’t realise he’s a douche, so you hate him, but at the same time you can’t really blame him. That’s how I feel about diesels, at least in passenger cars and pickups outfitted with stupid chrome stacks or ridiculously oversized exhaust tips. They are what they are, through no fault of their own. I’d be very happy if they just went away forever.

5 Reasons Why It’s Time For Diesel Cars To Die

And that could well be happening soon. Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City have taken steps to ban diesel cars and trucks by 2025. There’s growing pressure for London to follow suit. Germany wants to ban diesel and petrol car sales by 2030, as does Norway. Banning internal combustion cars will be all but impossible until electric and hydrogen power are better sorted, but with sights leveled against fossil fuel power, dirtier diesel is the one wearing the biggest bullseye.

I can hear diesel fans hashing away at their keyboards even as I hash away at mine. Fuel economy! Torque! Longevity! All valid points . . . if it was 1997. Diesel’s advantages are quickly disappearing in the face of advancing technology; if you don’t believe that, just Google dieselgate to understand just how bad things are. Or, you can ponder these five points as to why I think diesel is on death’s doorstep.

There isn’t any other way to say it - diesel is a dirty fuel to burn. The only way it’s still viable is through the use of increasingly complex technologies to capture soot and reduce NOx, and even then it doesn’t work unless you sacrifice performance or fuel economy - a fact that Volkswagen has so dramatically shown the world with its “clean diesel” technology.

2. It’s complicated

5 Reasons Why It’s Time For Diesel Cars To Die

Perhaps new technologies can make diesel cleaner to burn, or better capture those emissions. Perhaps we can add more pee (sorry, diesel exhaust fluid) tanks to the car to make the pee (sorry again, AdBlue fluid) last longer. Perhaps we can add more filters and exhaust devices, in turn adding weight, complexity and expense. But what is the ultimate goal here again? To have a car that equals petrol engines on emissions and performance and matches hybrids for fuel mileage? I’m failing to see the diesel benefit here.

If anyone’s ever witnessed a runaway diesel engine firsthand, you’ll never forget it. Yes, this is a fairly rare occurrence and many manufacturers claim to have safeguards against this, but that didn’t help this Peugeot. Nor the new Silverado pickup truck, BMW, Ford, or any number of the cars featured in runaway videos on YouTube.

4. Petrol engines have gotten better

5 Reasons Why It’s Time For Diesel Cars To Die

Once upon a time, the big advantages to diesel over petrol were fuel economy and longevity. 250,000 miles is easily achieved in modern petrol engines with basic maintenance, and there are all kinds of new petrol hatchbacks on the market with amusing turbo performance and fuel mileage ratings exceeding 40mpg on the highway. I will readily admit that diesel engines still hold an advantage in both areas, but the gap to second-place petrol is much closer. Is that advantage enough to justify diesel’s drawbacks? That’s for individuals to decide, but I think a majority of motorists will say no.

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There’s nothing diesel can do that electric motors can’t do a gazillion times better. Low end power? Electric gives you max torque right off the bat, and it can hustle a Tesla four-door sedan to through the quarter-mile in under 11 seconds; quicker than virtually every ultra-exotic hypercar in existence. It doesn’t burn fuel so there are no emissions to worry about. Electric motors are very simple with just a few moving parts so lower maintenance and longevity are virtually assured. The only issue - for now anyway - is improving battery power and range. But viable electric cars are evolving like crazy, and I suspect we’ll see electric cars with 1000-mile ranges in the next 5-10 years.

With that in mind, why on earth would manufacturers continue to invest in diesel power - utilising a dirty fuel that will require increasingly complex solutions just to maintain average performance at best - when electric and fuel cell development will lead to significant improvements on all fronts? Diesel still has a place with larger commercial vehicles, where the gap back to petrol and the jump forward to electric is still a fairly large one. But for passenger cars and light trucks, better petrol engines and far better alternative power solutions mean diesel will finally get the merciful death it deserves.



One problem for electric..

Why 1 gear…

12/28/2016 - 08:35 |
88 | 6

Thats only some manufacturers, look at the formula e and electric hypercar that beat the LAF they both had trannies

12/28/2016 - 09:37 |
8 | 0
The VW Beetle

In reply to by Deoxide

If electric cars are the future, then my years worth of clutch-leg workouts ARE ALL WORTHLESS!

12/28/2016 - 11:58 |
20 | 0

I didn’t understand it either until my graduate level vehicle dynamics class. The answer is that a properly chosen electric motor can output an even more ideal torque and power curve along the entire speed range than an internal combustion engine dyno’d continuously through all the gears. Electric motors can be programmed to have constant torque from 0 mph up until maximum power which occurs at about 45mph in the tesla, equivalent to the “ideal” torque/power curves for 1st gear. Then the electric motor stays at constant maximum power at all speeds from there, which means the torque diminishes gradually. The same thing happens at the exact same rate as you are banging thru gears if you think about it. Each gear is a torque reduction but the maximum power is still achieved because although there is less torque on the wheel, the wheel is moving faster.

As for why some people use gearboxes on the electric motor: it is expensive to get a motor than can supply the needed torque and power to produce the ideal torque and power curves. Tesla can do it because they are a huge company and have the economy of scale on their side. Guys in their garage might make an electric powered go kart out of a washing machine motor. The proper motor has to be both big enough to produce enough magnetic field to generate enough torque from 0 rpm, and have good enough cooling system to handle the maximum amount of power that you want to get from it.

12/28/2016 - 13:38 |
0 | 0


12/28/2016 - 08:41 |
0 | 0

Try driving from Sydney to Melbourne in an electric car

12/28/2016 - 08:48 |
46 | 2

Care to elaborate on that?

12/28/2016 - 13:03 |
2 | 2
Zubayer Rezoan

Good Luck towing your Ford or Ferrari :P

12/28/2016 - 08:48 |
2 | 0
Ali Mahfooz

The only big problem I see with electric cars is lack of involvement and sound.

12/28/2016 - 08:50 |
28 | 2

Really, just one? There’s more, like distance they can travel before recharging for 8 hours.

12/28/2016 - 12:50 |
4 | 0
The TallDutchmen

Well, maybe diesel hybrides.

But yeah those stupid american diesel trucks should die.

12/28/2016 - 08:59 |
18 | 8

Says someone that knows nothing about them aside from interwebz jokes. Makes you sound like all the ignorant people that “won’t drive no rice burner”. Ignorant to the topic and biased based on stereotype.

12/28/2016 - 13:20 |
4 | 4
Erich Mohrmann

The biggest problem with electric engines for me is the lack of sound, a proper exhaust note has always brought a smile on my face even on a bad day, with that gone coupled with pessimistic nature then I’m going to be one sad little man

12/28/2016 - 09:08 |
12 | 0

Electric vehicles should be equipped with boomsound system that put out artificial engine sound.

12/28/2016 - 13:15 |
0 | 0

Try driving your tesla offroad here in Finland with -20c.

Also electric is NOT the future, Hydrogen is because its unlimited.

And the is not enough lithium to have everyone a eletric car and we need litium for our phones aswell.

12/28/2016 - 09:12 |
154 | 4
5 Reasons Why It’s Time For Diesel Cars To Die

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I don’t know why someone down voted this post. Plus lithium extraction isn’t exactly clean. The recovery rate of lithium ion batteries, even in first world countries, is in the single digit percent range. Most batteries end up in landfill.

12/28/2016 - 10:20 |
66 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

That’s still electric brother, you do realize that the engine on the hydrogen powered cars is electric, right?

12/28/2016 - 11:32 |
4 | 2
Liam Tully

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Unfortunately it’s taking people too long to realize this. With how little research and work is going into hydrogen compared to electric cars, it could be a very long time.

12/28/2016 - 13:42 |
2 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I’m still with Injun86 on the idea of using algae-based biofuels. Algaes actually eat CO2.

12/29/2016 - 07:56 |
0 | 0
Joel Lundin

Good post agree with everything

12/28/2016 - 09:16 |
2 | 16

analyzing this post one point at a time:
1 - it’s dirty. True - if you are rolling coal or using an 80’s truck. Nowadays particle filters and additives capture pollutants, in the first case, making them available for treatment later, when the filters are replaced, or transform them in innocuous substances, so this point isn’t valid for the most recent engines.. (NOx was a big problem until the introduction of AdBlue)
2 - it’s not really complicated to fill two tanks when you have to stop for fuel (and if you can’t find adblue for sale, you can still run your car without it), and the other systems, 99% of the consumers never touch them, so that’s not an issue (and they’re still lighter than batteries). and even if it’s off topic in this point, i’ll comment that last sentence, “To have a car that equals petrol engines on emissions and performance and matches hybrids for fuel mileage”. That’s pretty much every petrolhead’s dream…
3 - it’s said: manufacturers have safeguards against it now, so it’s pretty much solved… (and you can always stall the engine…)
4 - petrol engines have gotten better. So have diesels, than can manage over 60mpg highway
5 - electric is the future. Half point here. there are many advantages to electric engines, and once their faults are diminished, they will dominate the market, but they’re still some way off. The culprits are the batteries: short range is a big issue, especially for users that have their cars or trucks as their workhorses, stopping a few times over a day, for quite a while, for recharging batteries simply isn’t acceptable for them. And I suggest some investigation on the production and recycling of those batteries, this technology might not seem so green after that. (I won’t go after the production of electric energy, as a few countries do actually produce it in a sustainable way).
Bottom line: diesel still as some life in it, altough for short commuters it doesn’t really make sense. When battery tech improves, then the case for internal combustion (diesel and petrol) will be much harder to make

12/28/2016 - 09:43 |
534 | 10

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

this came out longer than i expected…

12/28/2016 - 09:44 |
76 | 2

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Hahaha I am sorry for laughing but you can always stall a runaway diesel?😂😂😂😂
I would like to see a video of you trying to stall one. Unless you manage to choke the turbo or have a insanely strong clutch you have a very slim chance for that to happen. (except if you were to catch it super early)

But to point out. Nr.1 yes most pollutants are captured. But not all. Diesel IS dirtier than petrol. Pollutes “less” but more of bad pollution.

But I agree. Diesel isn’t done quite yet. It still has some punches to throw in this match of diesel vs. petrol

12/28/2016 - 11:26 |
12 | 2
James Reuter

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I completely agree with your comment, trucks are not a big thing in Europe so you very rarely see people ‘rolling coal’, not only is it not difficult to fill two tanks but most diesel have adblue refilled by the manufacturer each time the car is serviced so consumers don’t even have to worry about that. I’ve never seen #3 happen so. You’d be lucky to get 30mpg out of a petrol, yet diesels can get over 60 mpg..

12/28/2016 - 11:34 |
50 | 2

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Oh look son.

A diesel fanboy

12/28/2016 - 12:32 |
2 | 40

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with most of what you have said here. Trucks (18 wheelers) need the torque that a big diesel provides and they cannot afford to wait for batteries to recharge. In the US, trucks are the lifeline of the nation. They cannot be killed and currently the diesel engines that run them cannot be replaced.
The same goes for the people who actually use their F-350 Super Duty’s to do what they were designed to do. When you are pulling a trailer full of cows… there is really no replacement for the big diesel engine.

12/28/2016 - 13:08 |
26 | 0


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