The diesel car sector has received another setback after Japanese carmaker Nissan announced it will gradually stop selling diesel cars in Europe.

A Nissan spokeswoman said there would be a gradual withdrawal of diesel cars in Europe. Last month there were unconfirmed reports that Nissan would cut hundreds of jobs at its Sunderland plant, Britain’s biggest automotive factory, due to falling demand for diesel models in Europe.

“Along with other manufacturers and industry bodies we can see the progressive decline of diesel but we do not anticipate its sudden end in the short term. At this point in time and for many customers, modern diesel engines will remain in demand and continue to be available within Nissan’s powertrain offering,” said the Nissan spokeswoman.

“In Europe, where our diesel sales are concentrated, our electrification push will allow us to discontinue diesel gradually from passenger cars at the time of each vehicle renewal,” she added.

Sales of new diesel cars have fallen steeply in the UK following the VW emissions scandal.

In the EU, for the first year since monitoring started, petrol cars became the most sold vehicles in 2017, constituting almost 53 % of sales, according to provisional data published by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Diesel cars made up 45% of the new registrations. Compared to 2016, the registrations of diesel cars decreased in all EU member states except in Italy (+0.6%) and Denmark (+6.9%).