More than 40% of the European market’s passenger cars still use diesel as a fuel source. This is way more than other countries around the world.
Reasons for this range from fuel economy and the overall costs of a diesel engine. Unlike the traditional gasoline-powered engine that can sometime be more expensive to own, the diesel engine is usually cheaper.
In this article, we’re looking deeper into some reasons so many European cars are diesel-powered.
Let’s get into it.
Table of Contents
1. Reduced Carbon Dioxide Emissions
Diesel engines in cars are generally known to emit fewer CO2 emissions than their gasoline counterparts. Europe was on a drive to push for more diesel cars as a means of curbing CO2 emissions.
Even though this was a good goal for the European market, it still didn’t work out as well. This is because diesel engines still put out other harmful air pollutants.
Development of diesel cars in Europe began in the 1980s with countries such as Germany and France showing a keen interest. This trend then took off in the late 1990s inspired by an oil crisis.
Big European carmakers such as Peugeot and BMW had already invested a lot in the diesel engine industry. This is mainly why the shift to an alternative fuel source for cars was delayed.
The delay also affected Europe’s adoption of electrical and hybrid-electric cars. This is because going into the hybrid car market could’ve possibly seen a decrease in the number of diesel cars.
With that said, Europe is now seeing a health problem when it comes to diesel cars. Air quality is improving slowly and CO2 emissions are at an all-time high.
The European market has had its fair share of controversies regarding fuel emission regulations. However, they do have stringent plans in place to address the issues.
2. It’s Cheaper To Own a Diesel Car
Diesel has always been regarded as being cheaper in the EU countries than it is in the U.S. This is because diesel and gas cars perform differently in terms of speed and acceleration.
Another reason for this has to do with fuel efficiency over a certain mileage point. Diesel is usually cheaper compared to the price of gas, and it’ll likely drive for a longer distance.
Because of these reasons, you’ll likely see that while big luxury cars come in diesel, smaller cars like the Ford Fiesta or Kia Rio will come in a gasoline variant.
Moreover, the overall diesel price per gallon in the U.S. market is relatively more expensive than in E.U. countries. Besides, diesel cars were thought to be loud and smoky in the U.S., even though it is not the case anymore.
Yet, another issue for diesel cars in the U.S. market is the extremely low temperatures that are not great for a diesel engine. You’d have to spend more on treating the car to keep it in optimal condition.
Running costs on a diesel car may be higher compared to a petrol car. You’d definitely have to consider maintenance, insurance, and fuel costs. It is also important to learn about the common problems with a diesel engine.
Of course, servicing costs will be a bit higher for diesel cars because there are so many moving systems in the engine. However, insurance costs are typically the same with both petrol and diesel engines.
You might also have to look into fuel costs, emission, and tax costs for a diesel car. As we’ll soon learn, diesel engine fuel costs are about 20% lower than their petrol counterparts.
Emissions and tax typically depend on where the car is registered and certain places have different costs. While older diesel engines emit less CO2, they attract a lower emission tax.
It’s worth noting that modern diesel cars use the AdBlue system to greatly reduce emissions. This system reduces nitrogen oxide emissions with ammonia liquids in the exhaust system.
3. Protection From a Heavier Engine
Diesel engines are known to be a bit bigger and heavier than their gasoline counterparts. A heavier engine means more protection in the case of a collision.
There is a certain crumple zone in the engine compartment, and it is useful during collision, especially when occupied by a big engine. This is because, with a heavier engine, the space will be larger, and, in the case of a head-on collision, a heavier engine might be beneficial.
We have to keep in mind that this heavier engine was not made for safety purposes. The crumple zone is there to elongate the impact of the crash and minimize a crash.
A heavy diesel engine is the result of design rather than protecting passengers. However, it can also serve as a little extra cushion.
Diesel engines are heavier because of their robust design. Their cylinder walls have to be thicker and heavier, which also helps with the longevity of the diesel engine.
4. Longer Driving Range Between Refills
Many tests have also shown that a diesel engine will get more mileage than a gasoline engine. This comes in handy on long drives on Europe’s long highways.
For instance, the Autobahn is one of Europe’s longest highways and having to refill fuel every now and again can become tedious when driving on such a road. A bigger fuel tank, therefore, means the car will go on longer between refills.
Mileage has always been one of the big factors for potential car buyers. In that regard, people often prefer diesel cars with bigger fuel tanks.
The longer mileage range between refueling stops is great and European drivers always see this as a great advantage.
For example, the petrol version of the BMW 520i gives out about 44.8 miles per gallon. Consequently, the BMW 520d is the diesel version and can get you around 57.6 miles per gallon on a full tank.
These numbers show an increase of about 28% between a diesel version and a gasoline version of the same car. This might be a big reason why Europeans prefer diesel cars, especially for their luxury brands.
It is important to note that not every driver will experience these improvements, as mileage depends on how aggressively the car is driven. That said, ensure you read about the problems of low mileage diesel cars here.
5. Diesel Engines Last Longer
Cars with diesel engines have been known to last as long as 500,000 miles or more. It makes diesel engines much more durable than gasoline cars.
Diesel engines are built tougher and, as a result, can typically last up to three times longer. Even though they are cheaper to make, they are still heavier and more reliable than gasoline engines.
Moreover, longevity might also be improved by the way diesel engines actually work. They use the compression-fired technique rather than the traditional spark-fired method of a gasoline engine.
In a gasoline engine, the spark plugs have to be ignited individually to get the power. This is unlike diesel engines which automatically ignite due to the compression of the diesel.
This method of igniting is much simpler and therefore the cylinder walls have to be thick and heavy so that the compression pressure on the diesel can be controlled.
The cylinder walls are built robustly and are very heavy. Because of the extra thickness and weight, the engine is robust and lasts much longer as a result.
Europeans like to drive diesel cars because the engines are longer-lasting and more efficient. You can often find a diesel variant of popular European automakers such as BMW and Peugeot.
6. A Diesel Engine Sells Faster
Diesel cars now sell faster than their gasoline counterparts. This might be because they depreciate faster.
If a car depreciates faster, it gets easier to sell it as it’s become lower in value. Reasons like tax hikes and parking charges are often responsible for this.
Mind you, diesel cars are not as popular as they used to be. Their popularity has been declining since early 2017 and the trend is still going.
With the market of electric cars fast-growing, the sale of used diesel is also on the increase. The diesel car resale market is now fluctuating in price due to an uncertain future.
The fear that diesel cars might be phased out in the future is a big concern for diesel car owners. As an owner, you might be inclined to sell your diesel vehicle at a lower price.
Talking of future expectations, make sure you check whether petrol or diesel cars have a future.
The truth is, it is not a guarantee that a diesel car will fetch a better price than a gasoline car. There are other factors, such as the mileage and condition of the car, that are considered during the sale process.
With that said, private used car sellers always prefer to sell their cars as soon as possible. The longer it takes to sell it the less resale value it has.
7. Better Highways in Europe
Since the 1970s, European highways are some of the sturdiest and smoothest in the world. They can also carry traffic and heavy truck loads than in the U.S., for example.
In addition to being safer, most EU highways are known to be much longer. An example of this would be the Autobahn in Germany.
Germany is now restricting older diesel cars on the Autobahn due to their high CO2 emissions. The ban only affects older diesel cars on certain parts of the motorway and not all of it.
With diesel cars also having bigger fuel tanks, it means these cars can enjoy longer and smoother highways for longer.
On this note, it is important to note that European highways are built to last at least 40 years on average. For motorists, this means less construction work on the road and smoother driving.