This season’s must-have fashion for high-end automakers is the proposed elimination of diesel-powered engines. Volvo may keep theirs, but only if they’re supplemented by an electrified unit after 2019, and the same is true for both Jaguar and Land Rover. Mercedes-Benz hasn’t been quite so overt about its own diesel death, but it is pressing aggressively toward mild hybrids.
However, no manufacturer has the same incentive to distance itself from diesels as Volkswagen Group. Porsche, Audi, and VW all suffered from the company’s emissions scandal. Moving away from the fuel was to be expected, but Porsche’s chief executive hints diesel death may occur within a year as the company decides the future of the next-generation Cayenne.
When we previewed the new SUV last month, Porsche mentioned a pair of turbocharged gasoline engines but no diesel option. That was because the brand is still investigating whether diesel even has a place in the Cayenne and, by extension, the rest of its fleet.
“With Cayenne, we have sold a lot in Europe, and diesel is very important for customers,” Porsche CEO Oliver Blume said in an interview with Autocar. “There’s no decision yet, but we will do market analysis. The diesels are prepared for the market. What we decide, we will communicate [next] month.”
Blume specified that “diesel is not so important for Porsche.” He explained that diesel-powered vehicles make up about 15 percent of its total global sales volume and persist mainly in Europe, where individual countries are aggressively pushing for bans. The CEO noted Euro buyers may already be shying away from certain models as a result.
“We don’t know if this is a dip and will recover long term,” Blume said. “We closely watch the markets.”
The brand also doesn’t develop its own diesel engines. Instead, it sources them from VW Group — a move that caused problems when dieselgate expanded to the Audi-built 3.0-liter motor Porsche used in the current-generation Cayenne. In addition to recalls and a total abandonment of the platform, it also left the brand with 1,500 unsold models it had to repair and re-categorize as “lightly used.”
Porsche R&D boss Michael Steiner agrees that diesel is “something [Porsche is] investigating a lot,” as the European market looks especially uncertain. “What we’ve discussed and what we will investigate deeply this year and next; there could be a chance to start substituting diesel cars,” he said.