It's taken a while, but BMW is finally bowing to the inevitable and completely dropping diesel engines from its passenger vehicle portfolio in North America. It may be one manufacturer and one territory, but where America leads, much of the developed world tends to follow eventually.
BMWs with diesel engines will only be available new from dealers in North America for a few more months. The 2018 model year saw only a handful of diesels offered by the Bavarian auto giant, but they will be dropped by next year. A statement issued to the Autoblog website by a BMW spokesperson confirmed plug-in hybrids will be brought in to replace diesel BMWs in the territory. The statement says: "BMW of North America has seen a decrease in diesel sales and at the same time has seen dramatic sales growth for plug-in hybrid (PHEV) technology and strong demand for performance oriented gasoline engines."
Rather than part of a long-term strategy, the decision to ditch diesel seems to have been somewhat abrupt. The 540d xDrive was only just added to the range for the 2018 model year, but this development means that model will become something of a one-year oddity now.
Not long ago, Ford announced it was ending production of sedans and hatches for the American market. As the Fusion is basically the North American version of the European Mondeo, some observers suggested it could also signal the end was in sight for likes of the Mondeo in Europe too. Denials inevitably ensued, but then last week it started to come out of Ford Europe that the future of the Mondeo was indeed in doubt as a major restructuring plan gets underway.
Dropping diesels in North America is much easier for manufacturers than it would be in Europe because they've been fighting something of a losing battle to get Americans to like them for years. But as the backlash against diesel continues to grow in Europe, and as some smaller manufacturers are already walking away from oil-burners, this is a trend that appears to have legs.
It can't have escaped the notice of too many people that diesel isn't being championed by environmentalists these days like it was a few years ago. Not so long ago it was being lauded as a sensible alternative to petrol as it produced less CO2 emissions and was therefore better for the environment. While there's no denying the fact diesel vehicles produce less carbon dioxide emissions than their petrol equivalents, everyone had been conveniently overlooking a whole raft of other emissions diesels produce that are far more dangerous and damaging to health in the short term.
There is a little glimmer of hope for any North American buyer out there who does actually love diesel though, and that's because the BMW spokesperson also said: "BMW of North America continues to monitor customer preferences and is prepared to adjust the product portfolio accordingly." So, if diesel ever does become de rigueur again, BMW is prepared to backtrack. Realistically though, don't hold your breath.