PARIS -- Even in the heart of the world's largest diesel market, the future of the fuel looks clouded.
At the Paris auto show, senior auto executives expect the role of diesel engines in Europe to wane in the coming years amid government scrutiny and rising costs to comply with toughening regulations.
Diesel powertrains will still be widespread, especially in big car and SUV segments, where their high torque and efficiency are coveted. But in car segments, especially smaller cars, expect to see fewer diesels offered in the years ahead, even in Europe.
VW brand chairman Herbert Diess said additional emissions technology needed for diesels to comply with tougher regulations starting in 2020 is likely to boost the cost of diesels by 2,000 euros per car, or about $2,200.
"That might change the product mix a little bit," Diess said on the sidelines of the Paris show last week. "In smaller cars, will the customer still be prepared to pay a price of an additional 2,000 euros? Probably not."
Rising costs of diesel vehicles will cause a "rebalancing" of diesel vs. alternatives such as gasoline or electrified powertrains, said Nissan's chief planning officer Philippe Klein.
"Based on the visibility we have, I still think diesel is a good solution for fuel economy and CO2 for big, heavy vehicles and vehicles that are driven long distances," he said. "The question is a bit more open for smaller cars."