Porsche exec throws cold water on ditching diesel

Diesel versions of the Cayenne and possibly Macan will come to Europe

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Porsche.]

They're out, they're back in. Following a report a week ago that Porsche was planning to discontinue production of all its diesel vehicles, the brand's head of sales and marketing tells Automotive News that Porsche expects to launch a diesel version of the Cayenne in 2018 and maybe even the Macan crossover.

"We're not saying that we are exiting (diesel)," Detlev von Platen told the publication's European arm.
"For the SUV models, it makes sense where customers want range and torque."

A Porsche spokesman in Germany confirmed that position on Wednesday and sent the following statement:

"Traditionally, diesel engines have played a subordinate role at Porsche — its current proportion is 12 percent and the company does not develop or build diesel engines itself. Currently, the demand for diesel models is falling, whereas interest in hybrid and petrol models is increasing significantly. For example, the ratio for hybrid versions of the new Panamera in Europe is around 60 percent. In light of these facts Porsche has adapted its production planning. This decision means that Porsche currently does not offer any vehicles with diesel engines. However, it does not mean a diesel exit at Porsche. As announced, the new Cayenne is set to feature a diesel powertrain. The exact time of the market launch is not yet clear."

Porsche stopped selling diesel models in the U.S. in 2015. It's offering the 2019 Cayenne with a gasoline engine and plug-in hybrid version, but "will no longer be offering diesel models in North America," Porsche spokesman Luke Vandezande says.

The turnaround comes as a federal court in Germany approved bans of older, more polluting diesel vehicles in the cities of Duesseldorf and Stuttgart, Porsche's home base. The German government had opposed the bans, fearing they would hurt automakers and diesel car values. The bans don't apply to new less-polluting diesel cars, but they add momentum to diesel's broader decline and tarnished image among consumers. Porsche's CEO, Oliver Blume, also suggested last summer that the automaker could scrap diesels in favor of hybrids and electric vehicles.

Porsche introduced its third-generation Cayenne last fall at the Frankfurt auto show, but not with a diesel powertrain, and the smaller Macan is due for a facelift this year at the halfway point of its product life cycle. The Macan is also expected to be offered in hybrid and battery-electric versions when the next generation arrives as early as 2021. Porsche has been working on developing the Mission E, its all-wheel drive electric car which may be offered in three variants.

Porsche on Tuesday published an FAQ about its recall last year of nearly 30,000 Cayennes equipped with 3.0-liter V6 diesel engines after it told German regulators it found potentially illegal emissions-cheating software. It is providing a software update free of charge to owners, and it offered a premium for owners who traded in their older-model Porsches fitted with outdated diesel engines.

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