Once considered a long term pollution solution in European cities, diesel is fast becoming a dirty word in the wake of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal. Despite that Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth believes the fuel deserves another chance.
In an interview with Britain’s Autocar, Speth pointed to tightening emissions standards around the world as an opportunity for modern turbo diesel technology - particularly as a way of achieving more stringent fuel economy targets.
Speth believes modern diesel engine has the potential to bridge the gap between the current crop of conventional internal combustion and emerging electric vehicle technologies.
"The latest diesel technology is really such a step in emissions, performance, particulates; it's better for the environment when compared to petrol," Speth told Autocar. "Diesel has to - needs to - have a future."
But Speth admitted that diesel’s reputation has suffered, not only as a result of the Volkswagen Group’s emissions scandal but also on the back of planned diesel passenger vehicle bans under discussion in cities including Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City.
"Anyone can see the black smoke coming out of old diesels is bad. We need to replace them with newer ones," he said.
Speth also weighed in on Volkswagen's recent negative contribution to the fate of diesel.
"This kind of manipulation software is not acceptable," he said. "Unfortunately, the whole automotive industry suffers, not just Volkswagen.
"Nobody believes the automotive industry anymore," he added. "They see us as offenders and not giving the right information. We have to show our technology is the best you can buy, to reduce the damage to health and the environment."
Jaguar Land Rover has already shown its plans to move away from internal combustion engines with the I-Pace concept, set to go on sale by 2018, however, the company realises that by 2025 EVs could only make up one quarter of sales volume.
While that’s a significant figure, Speth said both petrol and diesel engines need to continue beyond that time and become more efficient into the next decade.