Sales chief says falling diesel sales will lead to a major issue for the car industry
Jaguar Land Rover group sales operations director Andy Goss has described the rise in average CO2 emissions that will result from falling diesel car sales as a “big, prominent issue” for the car industry.
Goss said that the absence of a credible market in plug-in hybrid and electric alternatives made the rise in CO2 emissions a short-term inevitability as tax changes and bad press discouraged buyers away from diesel and back to petrol. Average CO2 emissions rose by 1g/km in the UK last year, representing the first increase since records began in 2002.
“The CO2 agenda has not gone away,” said Goss. “It’s not just about CO2 or NOx – each is an agenda. All manufacturers are investing in electrification; it’s in all interests to navigate a glide path together.”
Goss said that the move away from diesel was not currently affecting any of JLR’s investment plans because its new range of four-cylinder diesel engines were part of the wider Ingenium family, with flexible production at the firm’s Wolverhampton engine plant. But he felt that it did throw long-term uncertainty over the fuel’s future.
““Is there a way back for diesel? That’s impossible to answer, but fiscal policy is only going in one direction. That brings CO2 awareness – in a move to petrol, CO2 emissions go up. It’s a worry.”
Goss believes that JLR can still hit its EU-mandated target for average CO2 emissions of new cars sold in the EU (thought to be around 130g/km), but he noted that the sudden switch away from diesel “provided an extra challenge to hit the target”.
UK diesel sales are set to suffer another downturn in April, when taxation hikes kick in for cars that don’t meet a certain certification standard – which will be the case for every car as the certification test hasn’t been formulated yet.
“It’s difficult to fathom the latest decision in the Budget,” said Goss. “I’m not saying it’s short-termism, but without other things in place like scrappage, it’s difficult to see an end-to-end decision process.”
Goss said he was generally content with the way the Government was working with JLR and the industry, but added that would like to see a more “hand-in-glove approach with policy”.
“We employ 40,000 people in the UK, and our suppliers many more. We’re investing billions in technology while exporting 80 per cent of what we make. It’s of huge benefit to the economy. We expect a hand-in-glove approach with policy so that there are no surprises.
“Planning takes huge time and investment, so it’s a sensible request, really. It’s not a manufacturing issue, but it’s another challenge on top of other ones – so why now?”