Toyota says diesels aren’t dead, might pair with hybrid tech

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Diesel engines may still have a future at Toyota, in some markets at least.

In a recent interview with Australian publication Drive, Toyota Australia sales and marketing boss said diesel is “not going to die off anytime soon,” adding that it remains viable as part of hybrid powertrains, “particularly for heavy vehicles.” That likely won’t be the case in the U.S., where Toyota doesn’t currently sell any diesels.

For Toyota, this seems like a turnaround versus nearly a decade ago, when it said that is was essentially stopping investment on diesel engines, and would soon stop selling them in Europe. However, Toyota continues to offer diesel engines in some European-market SUVs. Chairman Akio Toyota has also called for a new generation of combustion engines, showing the automaker isn’t done with fossil fuels.

2024 Toyota Land Cruiser

Europe was itself a stronghold for diesels. But some European brands have stopped making them entirely. Porsche announced the end in 2018, for example. And Volvo shifted from selling mostly diesels in Europe in 2019 to selling 70% hybrids and EVs in that market today.

In the U.S., General Motors currently offers diesels in its full-size SUVs and pickups, and it’s reportedly working on a new generation of plug-in hybrid tech for its trucks. But most other U.S.-market diesel passenger vehicles died out in the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal.

Toyota Land Cruiser Se concept

Toyota Land Cruiser Se concept

It’s unlikely that Toyota will challenge GM and lead a diesel renaissance in the U.S. A three-row electric SUV and investment upped in the manufacturing facilities needed to make it indicates Toyota plans to reduce emissions with more EVs and hybrids in this market.

In other markets, though, continued use of diesel vehicles could continue to be an emissions problem. A 2016 report found that Africa got much dirtier diesel fuel than Europe, compounding the environmental impact of burning it.

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