It's fair enough if you have a disability of some kind, I can't get my head around people driving an auto out of choice though!
The thing to remember here is that not everyone is an auto enthusiast or hobbyist. I'd say the vast majority regard cars much in the same way as refrigerators or washing machines, simply as a way to get a task done in the least expensive and least inconvenient way possible. For those people, automatic transmissions take away some of the unnecessary workload in the same way as automatic washing machines take away most of the work of laundering clothing.
I dont think its just about being an enthusiast. I think its a shame. The way a manual gearbox feels is what gives a car its personality. German cars, French cars, Japenese cars, Italian cars, Modern cars, Classic cars, every gear change feels different and you can distinguish between each and every one. Autos just all feel and sound the same, consistantly bland. Just my opinion of course
I love diesels and I love hybrids. I recently drove a Prius rental car for 1500 miles, and I must say, it was a joy to drive. When I put the button in "Power" mode, the Prius actually took off extremely fast. I was impressed that I could put the cruise control on 70 mph and it went right up a mountain grade easily. The CVT performed flawlessly. I can say at least powertrain wise the Toyota hybrid system is incredible. The dash layout and steering wheel were horrible! The gauge cluster is about the ugliest and most inconvenient layout I have ever seen.
I have to say I do love my manual shift Honda hybrid, but the Toyota CVT was a joy to use, I love the silent electric mode. I drove the Prius hard, loaded with a few people and a lot of luggage and it returned 46 MPG avg, which is awesome. Although hybrids appear to be getting less popular ( as witnessed by many being dropped by manufacturers), I find them to be perfect for the type of driving I do.
A very small diesel could probably best the mpg, but I do not think it could have the performance of Hybrids. A small diesel could potentially be a lot cheaper to make and maintain though. My personal fav would be a 600cc diesel in a small sporty 2 seater, like a Mazda Miata chassis.
And replace them with what? Europe has been focusing on slashing C02 for years, best way they decided was to blame the tax paying people that live there. In the UK, diesel has been very popular due to the low annual road tax, which is based on C02 emissions, and the improved economy. Whilst C02 can be 50-75% lower for a diesel car, other pollutants can be slightly higher. Truth is, people are hooked on diesel, now just as smooth, quiet and refined as a petrol car, more torque and less need to accelerate hard with great economy too. They are going to have a hard job convincing people to switch back to petrol cars now...
I don't think it will be that difficult. Punitive taxation should do the trick.
"In France, we have long favoured the diesel engine. This was a mistake, and we will progressively undo that, intelligently and pragmatically," Valls said.
About 80 percent of French motorists drive diesel-powered cars.
Valls said taxation would have to orient citizens towards more ecological choices, notably the 2015 state budget measures to reduce the tax advantage of diesel fuel versus gas.
Always hitting people in the pocket seems to do the trick most of time, but the whole reason they made diesels a more attractive purchase involved saving people money on road tax, fuel savings etc etc and cut carbon emissions too. Can't see anything major changing here in the UK for some time. They might introduce a tx for diesel cars entering cities like London, Birmingham, Manchester etc.
The only reason Europeans are hooked on diesels is government policy. Diesels have always been dirty engines in terms of NOx and particulates. Governments decided CO2 was a contributor to global warming, and decided to punish its emission by high fuel taxes (of course, the tax revenue was important too). This encouraged people to move to diesels. Small cars and small engines have been a European factor since WWII and the later Suez crisis. That didn't change, but the power plant did. Start heavily taxing vehicles by their NOx emissions, like the tiered CO2 road tax, and changes will take place. It will take years, because not everyone can afford to spend thousand of pounds, euros, or dollars to buy a car which will be less expensive to run. Another possible trick is imposition of annual vehicle inspections, which will find older vehicles "unsafe" in some very-expensive-to-repair way and which will force them off the roads. There will be more "drive in the city" fees, which will just shift the emissions somewhere else. Electric vehicles seem a good idea, but that merely shift the emissions from the vehicle exhaust to the power plant smokestack. Governments are already looking at ways to increase tax revenue from cars which burn less fuel, considering such ways as GPS data logging in order to tax vehicles not by fuel use but by road miles.
If they're serious about this, they really need to use incentives to draw people toward whatever inane thing it is they want people to do instead. Punishing folks for taking advantage of tax breaks their own government backed is in really, really poor taste. And in any case, they should be worried about putting the European economy back together rather than whatever pollution aims they have.
It wasnt government policy that made diesels more popular, like I said before, diesels make 1 problem but they solve many others. Diesels make more sense to more people, if a diesel vehicle offers better performance, more torque and can tow more, has lower maintainance and longer service intervals, has lower C02 emissions, does anywhere up to 50 - 75% more miles on the same quantity of fuel, are more durable and can do many more miles than a gas car, and is just as quiet, smooth and refined as it's petrol equivelent, not to mention is cheaper to tax and insure, then a diesel car is a no brainer for most car buyers.
Charon, you seem to have convinced yourself diesels are dirty and gas is clean, you're only fooling yourself, directly burning fossil fuels is never "clean" and gas cars still emit MORE C02 than thier diesel equivelents, and they still emit N0X too. If you look at the figures, the N0X for the petrol version of my car are 0.04 grams per KM, my diesel is 0.14 grams, you're splitting hairs really, and when you consider some American cars use up to 400% more fuel, and emit 400% more C02 than thier diesel rivals, the gap is much closer than you think.
A big batch of Hydrogen cars have just been made available to the UK, water goes in, oxygen comes out. Fairly clean, but hydrogen pumps are rare in the UK. Electric cars, lots of them around here too, and charging points all over the UK, but like you said, that electric still has to come from somewhere.
There is an annual government inspection test here in the UK, it's very thourough and takes 1 hour to complete. Everything is tested especialy emissions. It's very strict, if you car has so much as a stone chip in the windscreen, it can be declared un-roadworthy. Safety control is very strict here, thats why less than 2000 people died on UK roads last year, and it's estimated some 40% of those are motorcyclists.