The future of the diesel engine had, at one point, seemed bleak, especially when the controversial Dieselgate saga broke out. But certain factions, like Mercedes-Benz, think otherwise. Company boss Dieter Zetsche said CO2 is “the biggest issue” of combustion engines, rather than NOx. In fact, customers are showing more confidence in diesel than politicians by continuing to buy them in significant numbers.

According to Autocar, Mercedes-Benz sold more diesels in Europe in 2017 than in 2016. Zetsche also said that diesel cars are crucial to reducing the amount of CO2 put into the atmosphere. “I do believe it is not to the benefit of society to turn down the benefits of CO2 savings that diesels offer. We are talking a lot about NOx but I believe CO2 is still the biggest issue,” he explained.

“In 2018 we are seeing a small dip in diesel take-up, but customers on the whole are still showing confidence. More than 50% of our sales are diesels. They are more open to the options than the political discussions suggest,” he added.

Mercedes-Benz is considering voluntarily introducing its own economy and emissions bandings to help drivers understand the effects of different types of driving and roads. “The new regulations and test methods are a great step forward, but if we can offer even more realistic information that helps the customer then it can only be a good thing,” said Zetsche.

The carmaker’s commitment to diesel engines was clear when it brought pre-production E-Class and C-Class diesel plug-in hybrids to this year’s Geneva show, which uses its third-gen hybrid drive system.