Sales of petrol-powered vehicles have overtaken that of diesel models in Europe for the first time since 2009, according to a report by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association. This can be attributed to a fall in diesel’s market share from 50.2% to 46.3% of new vehicle registrations in the first half of 2017.

In unit terms, this represented a decrease of 152,323 diesel vehicles sold compared to the same period last year, which has been offset by the increase in petrol vehicle sales. Now accounting for 48.5% of new vehicle sales (up from 45.8% last year), this is an increase of 328,615 petrol vehicles sold.

Electrically-chargeable vehicles (plug-in hybrids and pure EVs) accounted for 1.3% of of total vehicle sales in that period, hybrids comprised 2.6%, while natural gas vehicles accounted for 1.3% of new car sales in that time. Still relatively minute, as mass electrification efforts by the likes of the Volkswagen Group are only just getting underway.

“Alternative powertrains will undoubtedly play an increasing role in the transport mix, and all European manufacturers are investing heavily in them. To this end, more needs to be done to encourage consumers to buy alternatively-powered vehicles, for instance by putting in place the right incentives and deploying recharging infrastructure across the EU,” said ACEA secretary general Erik Jonnaert.

Diesel-powered cars vehicles still have to be a part of the gradual transition to low-carbon emissions vehicles as diesels emit ‘significantly less CO2’ compared to equivalent petrols. “Policy makers need to be aware that a sudden shift from diesel technology to petrol will lead to an increase in CO2 emissions, given that the market penetration of alternative powertrains remains low,” Jonnaert said.