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2011 US clean diesel sales up by 27 percent

DTF's Allen Schaeffer, who will be speaking at the 2012 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo in Orlando, comments on the sharp rise in U.S. diesel sales last year, and the potential growth in years to come.
By Ron Kotrba | January 11, 2012

The Diesel Technology Forum issued a news release today based on updated sales information compiled by HybridCars.Com and the market research firm Baum and Associates, stating that the sales of new clean diesel automobiles in the U.S. increased by 27.4 percent in 2011 over 2010.

“Without a doubt, 2011 was a key year for the industry’s effort to reestablish clean diesel automobiles in the United States,” said Allen Schaeffer, the executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. “This 27 percent increase in annual sales is a strong sign that American drivers are understanding the benefits of new clean diesel technology in terms of better fuel efficiency and reduced emissions. I fully expected clean diesel auto sales to increase further as several new diesel cars enter the U.S. market in the next couple of years. The new federal fuel efficiency standards that will required a 54.5 mpg average by 2025 will also boost clean diesel auto sales, as diesel cars are 20 to 40 more fuel efficient than gasoline versions.”

Schaeffer will lead a general session discussion in Orlando at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo on Tuesday morning, Feb. 7, with OEM and auto industry leaders, about diesel’s role in the U.S. as fuel economy standards and greenhouse gas emissions regulations get tougher.

The sales information from HybridCars.Com and Baum and Associates showed that clean diesel auto sales increased 27.4 percent in 2011 compared to the overall market’s increase of 10.2 percent.

DTF notes that several U.S. diesel availability announcements were made this week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Among those, Chrysler announced that it will be introducing a Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel in 2013 or 2014, and possibly other Jeep diesels later. General Motors announced that a diesel version of the Cadillac ATS would available in the U.S. in the near future. Even Porsche announced a diesel Cayenne would be coming to the U.S. in 2012. A diesel version of the Chevrolet Cruze will begin sales in the U.S. in 2013. Mazda will become the first Asian car manufacturer to sell diesel cars in the U.S. when it introduces its SKYACTIV-D 2.2-liter clean diesel engine. The S350 BlueTEC marks the return of the diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz S-Class to the U.S. in 2012 after a 17-year absence. The Volkswagen Passat, which was recently named the Motor Trend 2012 Car of the Year, began production of the Passat diesel in its new Chattanooga, Tenn., plant in the summer of 2011.

“While most auto makers have clean diesel autos on the market in Europe, Asia and Australia, there are growing indications that even more diesels are on their way to the U.S. market,” Schaeffer said.

By 2015, Baum and Associates expects diesel car sales to grow to 6 to 6.5 percent of the entire U.S. market, compared to just over 3 percent today. The research firm J.D. Power & Associates sees the U.S. diesel market share growing steadily to 7.4 percent by 2017.