Volvo recently built its last car with a diesel engine, but Toyota sees things differently. Although the popularity of the oil-burner has gone down in recent years, the Japanese automaker claims this type of engine still has a long future. Toyota Australia sales and marketing boss Sean Hanley believes that "diesel, despite popular commentary, is not dead. It's got a while to go, diesel, so it's not going to die off anytime soon."

Speaking with Australian magazine Drive, the executive said diesel remains "a very credible fuel source" especially in the case of heavy vehicles such as trucks and large SUVs. However, Hanley reckons the diesel engine needs to adapt to increasingly stricter emissions regulations to survive. It's why Toyota recently launched a Hilux with a mild-hybrid version of the 2.8-liter, four-cylinder turbodiesel engine.

2024 Toyota Hilux Hybrid 48V

Hanley doesn't rule out the possibility of a combustion engine running on synthetic diesel. Concomitantly, Toyota is trying to keep the ICE alive by making it run on hydrogen by testing prototypes of the GR Yaris and GR Corolla on the racetrack. A couple of months ago, chairman Akio Toyoda announced a new family of combustion engines is in the works, signaling the firm's intention to sell conventionally powered cars in the long run.

The "major engine development project" is necessary because Akio Toyoda projects purely electric vehicles will never surpass a market share of 30 percent. The other 70 percent of cars are still going to have combustion engines, running on gasoline and diesel. Toyota thinks synthetic fuels and hydrogen could become viable alternatives one day.

It will be harder and harder for Toyota to sell vehicles with diesel engines in markets where regulations are getting tougher, chief of which is the European Union. Many automakers have phased out diesel engines from their small cars in the EU, which explains why diesels had a market share of only 13.6 percent last year, down from 16.4 percent the year before.

In 2023, EVs outsold diesels in the EU for the first time, accounting for 14.6 percent of total shipments, according to data published by the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association. Hybrids were also far more popular than diesels, with a 25.8 percent share. Plug-in hybrids represented 7.7 percent but not all PHEVs have gasoline engines since some automakers such as Mercedes-Benz sell them with a diesel instead.

Logic tells us that diesels will remain popular in emerging markets and for commercial vehicles where legislation is more relaxed.

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