Mercedes CEO praises rising diesel sales: ‘There is no rational reason today not to buy one’

(Credit: Daimler AG)

Germany’s electric car revolution might be accelerating with the introduction of vehicles like the Porsche Taycan and the arrival of the Tesla Model 3, but some automakers in the country seem to be maintaining their appreciation of diesel-powered propulsion nonetheless. In a recent statement, Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius revealed that diesel sales have actually been on a rise for the veteran carmaker, suggesting that the fuel type is far from being phased out. 

The Mercedes-Benz CEO’s comments were related at the Frankfurt Motor Show, where Källenius stated that he believes common sense among consumers will eventually preserve the future of diesel. The chief executive also pointed out that the latest innovations in diesel technology have made the fuel far cleaner than before, making it a cleaner choice for many car buyers. 

“The good thing about facts is that they are facts. The truth is that in most situations, diesels enjoy an economy benefit of 15-20% and in a lot of circumstances also lower NOx emissions than they are certified at. There is no rational reason today not to buy one if your driving profile suits its best use,” the CEO said

Perhaps more importantly, Källenius added that Mercedes-Benz’s diesel sales have actually been rising in the past months. This is bolstered by the introduction of vehicles such as the GLE350de 4Matic, a diesel-electric plug-in hybrid SUV equipped with a 31.2 kWh battery that is capable of lasting between 55.9 and 61.5 miles under the WLTP cycle. With this in mind, the CEO remarked that he remains “cautiously optimistic” about the future of diesel. 

“At Mercedes, we only experienced a relatively small decline in sales, but over the past months, we have seen that mix creeping up again. At the point of sale, the public are typically very rational and so, if diesel meets their needs, they will buy it. If it doesn’t, we must ensure we have alternatives. But on the future of diesel I’m cautiously optimistic,” he said. 

The Daimler CEO’s comments about diesel are quite similar to the statements of Sebastian Willmann, Head of Diesel Engine Development at Volkswagen. In an interview last month, Willmann stated that the company’s new 2.0 TDI EA288 Evo diesel engine will be the company’s cleanest and best yet. The executive also added that Volkswagen’s diesel engines are the cleanest they have ever been. “Diesel has always been very economical and now it is absolutely clean,” he said. 

Unfortunately for Volkswagen, the announcement of its new diesel engine came not long before a Düsseldorf district court declared that a software fix rolled out by the automaker as a response to its Dieselgate scandal in 2015 had another cheat device written in. According to the district court, the exhaust gas cleaning system in Volkswagen’s fix only worked at outside temperatures between 10-32 degrees Celsius. If the weather falls below or above this range, the cleaning system remained disabled, allowing the affected vehicles to overly-pollute as before.

Mercedes CEO praises rising diesel sales: ‘There is no rational reason today not to buy one’
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