Volkwagen UK will be trying to tempt private buyers into diesels when it launches the all-new Polo next spring and will be lobbying the Government to improve incentives.
At launch three diesels will feature in a five-engine line-up, although a further three petrol versions will be available later in the year.
Robin Woolcock, Volkswagen Group UK chief executive, said: “Company car users have got the diesel message, but there is still a large market to crack among private and small car buyers.”
Diesel now accounts for 80% of VW Passat sales and the challenge with Polo, according to Mr Woolcock, is persuading people away from petrol. Initially he expects just 13% of sales to be diesels.
“Once customers have experienced the benefits, such as fuel economy, and realised they are just as fast, environmentally friendly and quiet as petrol, then they can make up their own minds,” he said.
VW is concerned that the UK Government offers buyers little incentive to choose diesel, with prices far greater than in mainland Europe. It believes ministers do not understand the issues.
“There is clearly someone advising the government that diesel has a number of disadvantages and I would love to meet them,” said Mr Woolcock.
“The technical advice in Europe is that diesel is the way to go. There is also a lot more potential than with LPG.” VW hopes to sell 44,000 Polos next year. The launch line up will feature 1.2 and 1.4-litre petrol engines plus three diesels: 1.4-litre, 1.9-litre and 1.9-litre turbodiesel.
Prices have not yet been announced but four trim levels will be available: E, S, SE and Sport.