In the wake of the scandal surrounding Volkswagen's so-called emissions defeat device, there are no signs that diesel engines are falling out of favour with consumers, and nor should they, according to the head of Germany's automotive association.

Matthias Wissmann, president of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), said people should not make blanket judgements about the industry following the VW scandal. Rather, the general public should be made more aware of the advantages of diesels for reducing CO2. 

Wissman admitted this is not going to happen overnight – it will need time but is important.

He told the VDA's Technical Congress: "Defeat devices that manipulate tests are illegal and are irreconcilable with the way we see ourselves. What I ask is this: please do not make any blanket judgments about the automotive industry and its more than 800,000 employees in Germany alone, based on these events. We should also stand together in firmly resisting any discrediting of diesel technology. Manipulating software has nothing to do with diesel.

"It is clear that anyone who says 'yes' to climate protection must also say 'yes' to diesels. That is why we need diesels. If only diesel vehicles were registered in Germany, every year the new vehicles alone would save as much CO2 as a town with 70,000 inhabitants emits every year. That is why the German and European automotive industries continue to support diesels. 

"We are convinced that diesels can bring advantages not only in consumption and thus in CO2 emissions. With the latest Euro 6 exhaust technology, they can also comply with the most demanding pollution limits in the laboratory and on the roads. And this is completely legal, without any tricks.

Wissmann added diesels were relevant not only for vehicle manufacturers. The suppliers were especially heavily involved in developing diesels into "cleaner air machines" with the application of Euro 6. "Some of the suppliers employ thousands of highly qualified workers who dedicate all their skill to this technology to achieve environmental and climate-related benefits."

At last week's annual accounts press conference, BMW confirmed diesel would remain a central pillar of its CO2 strategy.

Klaus Frohlich, board member in charge of development said: "Diesel is embedded in our strategy as well as our other, newer developments such as electrification." Diesel currently accounts for around 80% of BMW sales in Europe.

Board member for sales and marketing, Ian Robertson added the diesel share could reduce over time as various European markets provide incentives for people to switch to electric cars or plug-in hybrids.

He said: "The important thing is that we have the flexibility in our manufacturing operations to switch between types of engine. I still believe that diesel will be a strong part of our business in the future."

BMW is hedging its bets as far as electrification and fuel cells are concerned. Take up of EVs has not advanced as quickly as many had hoped and neither is battery technology advancing quickly enough. There are more steps to be made with lithium-ion battery technology then moving on to lithium-air. The next big step will be solid state which is now getting the intellectual resource required to make it happen. It produces high density energy but high volume production is very difficult.

Fuel cells are logical in terms of range while size and cost continue to come down. The challenge is still infrastructure. Installing a hydrogen filling facility cost around EUR1m but ultimately this could be driven by legislation with more cities demanding zero emissions.