UK diesel use in decline for the first time in a decade

Diesel use down for the first time in a decade

The ‘decline of diesel’ often refers to diesel car sales. Now, the amount the UK has burned in its vehicles is down, for the first time in a decade.

The amount burned was down by just under 500 million litres between January and November 2019. That’s 27.416 billion litres burned last year, compared with 27.909 billion litres burned in the same period in 2018.

After ten years of increasing demand, last year’s figure is lower than 2016’s. For reference, 500 million litres is roughly what the country’s diesel vehicles consume within a week.

'make or break' for diesel in 2020

It’s the first time that the use of diesel has dropped since the financial crisis over a decade ago. Is it because there are fewer diesel-powered cars on the road?

According to the AA, not entirely. The drop-off of oil burners in the new car market has had something to do with it. However, it’s also claimed that a fall in lorry and van traffic last year, as a result of economic uncertainty, will have contributed.

The drop is actually not as dramatic as some might have expected, given the scale of the scandal around diesel and the drop in appeal the fuel has suffered since it broke cover in 2015. However, as the popularity of SUVs, which are mostly diesel-powered, has ballooned, the losses have been cushioned somewhat.

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“The first drop in UK diesel demand in a decade is one to watch,” said Luke Bosdet, from the AA.

“Whether a Brexit economic bounce back reinvigorates commercial traffic levels and therefore diesel use, or whether the reduction signals UK fossil fuel use moving from tipping point to actual decline.”

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