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January 26, 2021

World's Biggest Diesel Engine Plant Shifts to Making Electric Motors

The world’s biggest diesel engine factory is undergoing a radical overhaul: it’s switching to make electric motors.

From less than 10 percent of output in 2020, electric motor production at an engine factory owned by Stellantis (the merger between FCA and Groupe PSA) will double its production to around 180,000 units in 2021. It’s planned to reach 900,000 a year, or more than half the plant’s peak pre-pandemic output by 2025.

Fellow French automaker Renault is following suit. Its Cleon engine plant only has half a building housing the assembly lines for diesel engines, while hybrid and electric motors take up a spread of over two whole buildings.

This move is a testament to Europe shunning away diesels for good. Demand for diesel cars has slumped since Volkswagen’s 2015 pollution scandal, while tough new EU regulations, which fine automakers for exceeding emissions limits, are pushing them to make more electric models.

The transition from diesel is particularly marked over there, where sales of diesel vehicles made up at least 50 percent of the total as recently as 2015. In 2020, however, it marked a significant shift as electrified vehicles overtook diesels for the first time (diesels account now for just 24.8 percent of new car registrations, while electrified vehicles now make up 25 percent).

This year, 20 new car models will no longer be offered with a diesel motor making it an “unprecedented year” according to researcher IHS Markit.

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