Despite long-standing preferences for diesel engines in Europe, increasingly strict EU emissions regulations, rising diesel prices, as well as more-efficient gasoline-burning engines have industry insiders predicting diesel’s days as a dominant fuel in Europe are numbered.

Presently, 50 percent of new cars sold in the UK use diesel engines, and in Spain and France, this is as high as 70 percent. The EU average is 55 percent, whereas in Japan and the U.S. diesel adoption is in the single digits – and by decade’s end, the Europeans may have more in common with the U.S. than they now do.

Citing automotive engineers, Autocar reported the price of diesel engines will have to go up, given the cost of engineering engines that comply with Euro 6 and Euro 7 pollution rules.

In addition diesel fuel could become proportionately more costly in Europe as is the case that Americans already experience, and tax advantages enjoyed by Europeans may also be finite said Joe Bakaj, head of product development for Ford of Europe, speaking to Autocar.

“Europe exports a lot of petrol to the U.S., but if the demand falls, a lot of refining capacity could be taken out of the system, driving up diesel prices,” said Bakaj. “There’s also the cost of exhaust after-treatment systems for the upcoming EU6.1 and EU6.2. The latter has more onerous limits on emissions of NOx and particulates.

“It is much cheaper to get petrol engines through EU6.2; with diesel engines we need technology such as selective catalyst reduction systems, and costs increase again with heavier vehicles.”

Bakaj added that petrol engines stand to close the efficiency gap without specifying whether electrification was part of the strategy in addition to standard technologies like direct injection, downsizing with turbocharging, and other means.

Autocar also noted Klaus Schmidt, former head of chassis development for BMW and present director of vehicle engineering for Chinese start-up Qoros, said diesels are poised to drop precipitously in importance to European consumers by 2020.

For those readers who periodically post here that “clean diesel” is an oxymoron, it would appear European regulators are in agreement as they clamp diesel technology so hard, it may mean the beginning of the end of its being Europe’s fuel of choice.