Big uptick in U.S. light-duty diesel sales

By Ron Kotrba | January 17, 2013

Clean diesel automobile sales in the U.S. have increased 25.6 percent in 2012, according to sales information compiled by HybridCars.Com and Baum and Associates. Most recently, U.S. sales of clean diesel autos increased 21.2 percent in October 2012 over October 2011, 44 percent in September, and 28.1 percent in August. “The 44 percent increase … in September was the largest gain of any month in 2012,” says Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. “An important trend in U.S. clean diesel sales is the consistency of the monthly increases,” Schaeffer says. “Diesel sales have increased in 26 of the past 27 months with 23 of these months showing double-digit increases.

Impressively, there have been 20 percent or better increases in 20 of the past 27 months.” Schaeffer also says the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts that compared to 2012 the price of diesel fuel will decline by about 3 percent in 2013 to $3.83/gallon.

Schaeffer adds that while 14 clean diesel autos and SUVs were available in the U.S. at the end of 2012 (31 including light-duty trucks and vans), the number will nearly double in the next 18 months. Some of these include the Audi A6, A7, A8 and Q5 TDI diesels to be available this year. A TDI clean diesel A4 version is also expected in 2014. BMW also announced the U.S. market will see a 2.0-liter four cylinder diesel and 3.0-liter inline six-diesel engine by end of year. Chrysler will introduce its new Jeep Grand Cherokee Ecodiesel in 2014, along with a new version of the discontinued Dakota pickup that will include a diesel. Ford will offer a new diesel Transit full-size commercial van in 2013. General Motors will offer a Cadillac ATS diesel and a diesel version of the Chevrolet Cruze in 2013. Mazda will become the only Asian car manufacturer to sell diesel cars in the U.S. when it introduces its SKYACTIV-D 2.2-liter clean diesel engine. Mercedes also plans to bring a diesel in the GLK and C-class for a total of eight diesel models by 2014.

A June 2012 Pike Research study also projects that growth of diesel light-duty vehicles will be especially strong in North America, with annual sales expected to increase from 282,000 vehicles in 2012 to 928,000 by 2018. Pike Research also predicts nearly 80 million clean diesel vehicles—light- and medium-duty—will be sold worldwide from 2012 to 2018.

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