Auto giants defend diesel as Geneva motor show opens

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In 2017, Toyota Motor Europe registrations rose 38% to 406,000 units, of which hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) made up 41% of total sales.

Last year, nearly 15% of the brand's cars sold in Europe were diesel-powered, while in 2012 their share was 30%.

Mueller spoke Monday at a Volkswagen event ahead of the Geneva International Motor Show.

Toyota's distributors in Ireland registered 4,768 diesel cars previous year. Registrations have become increasingly weighted towards hybrids since 2015, when sales were split evenly between hybrids and diesels.

The brand has confirmed that it's phasing out diesel passenger vehicles in Europe over the course of 2018, starting with cars like the Auris, according engadget's report.

In the UK, Toyota sold 101,692 units a year ago, of which hybrids made up 45,803 units - equating to 45%, similar to Europe. Toyota says that 90 percent of the vehicle's sales are hybrids.

For several years, HEV versions have been the dominant powertrain where offered.

The new Auris is built on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) architecture, which is already used by the current Prius and C-HR models, which simplifies vehicle design in key areas while improving rigidity and lowering the centre of gravity.

A particular success has been the compact SUV - the Toyota C-HR - introduced at the end of 2016.

An all-new 2.0-litre hybrid offers greater power and more dynamic driving characteristics, with 177PS.

The company will keep diesel commercial vehicles like the Hilux truck, Land Cruiser SUV and Proace van to "meet customer needs", but that's as far as it goes.

"Diesel will be phased out in our passenger cars in 2018", Johan van Zyl, president of Toyota Motor Europe, said in Geneva, where Europe's first major auto show of the year opens this week. "Once the knowledge that diesels are eco-friendly firms up in people's minds, then, for me, there's no reason not to buy one".

Other manufacturers, notably Suzuki and Kia, have long-standing commitments to hybrid, but "Toyota was the first and focused all its efforts on developing and positioning the technology as a good alternative" to diesel, said Felipe Munoz, an expert at London-based auto industry analysts Jato Dynamics.

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