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Jaguar Land Rover doubles down on diesel as other automakers bet on EVs

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Despite a number of automakers curtailing their plans for diesel offerings or development, some are doubling down on a bet made well before the Volkswagen diesel crisis developed. Jaguar Land Rover rolled out new diesel models just as the VW diesel crisis began taking its toll and remains committed to the tech as several competitors, including VW itself, are rushing into electrics.

Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth told Autocar that the automaker will devote more efforts to promote modern diesel tech, citing its widespread use in commercial vehicles among other factors.

“The latest diesel technology is really such a step in emissions, performance, particulates; it’s better for the environment when compared to [an equivalent] petrol,” Speth told Autocar.  “Diesel has to -– needs to -– have a future.”

Speth is quick to make the distinction between old diesel technology and new, highlighting the fact that the latest diesels have become much cleaner, even though in the public eye the distinction may be lost in light of the VW scandal.

“This kind of manipulation software is not acceptable. Unfortunately, the whole automotive industry suffers, not just Volkswagen.” Speth told Autocar.
 

The CEO is not advocating for diesels to stay forever — he sees an electric takeover in the relatively near future as unavoidable — but the step toward reducing emission levels still lies through improved diesel tech.

“The future is pure battery electric vehicles. No other technology will bring that freedom,” Speth added.

The CEO’s comments come at a delicate time for diesel cars in the U.S. and overseas. While the VW diesel crisis has certainly affected consumer perception of diesels in the States, now threatening to mire Mercedes-Benz and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the effect of the crisis in Europe has been different. As a number of regulatory bodies have launched investigations into certain automakers’ use of auxiliary emissions control devices and millions of VW Automotive Group vehicles are under recall, the crisis has not made a significant dent in the sales of diesel cars in Europe, which still make up a large chunk of the entire vehicle population in Western and Eastern Europe.
 


It remains to be seen if U.S. regulators will share Jaguar Land Rover’s enthusiasm for diesels going forward; until the new administration signaled its intention to relax fuel economy and emissions standards, prospects for diesel in the U.S. looked limited at best, with impending 2018 legislation making VW throw in the towel instead of waiting for the regulatory regime to tighten. Mercedes-Benz and BMW, the other European automakers with diesels still on the menu, have hedged their bets by offering a very limited selection of diesel engines stateside.

Jaguar currently offers the XE sedan in diesel flavor in America, powered by a 2.0-liter turbodiesel inline-four good for 180 hp and 318 lb-ft of torque, while the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Land Rover Discovery offer a 3.0-liter turbodiesel good for 254 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. The new Range Rover Velar will offer the same 2.0-liter turbo-diesel inline-four shared with the Jaguar XE sedan when it goes on sale in late 2017.

2018 Jaguar F-Type 2.0 at the New York auto show

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