Diesel Auto Sales Increase 35 Percent in First Quarter of 2012
Diesels Approaching Growth Level of Hybrids, More Models Expected
Although the national average price for diesel fuel has persistently stayed above the $4 a gallon mark for more than a year, it hasn't hurt sales of diesel models in the U.S. market. The Diesel Technology Forum, an industry advocacy group for clean-diesel technology, released figures from the first-quarter 2012 sales of diesel models, and it's clear that consumers are getting over diesel's former "slow, smoky and noisy" reputation. Diesel models' year-over-year gains were 21.2 percent in January, 42.9 percent in February, and 39.6 percent in March.
For each month, diesel sales gains outpaced the overall automotive market (which also showed double-digit gains) and surpassed hybrid percentage sales gains for two of three months. The organization also notes this is a gain over the 27 percent overall increase in diesel sales for 2011.
In addition to new diesel cars on the market including the Volkswagen Passat TDI and the upcoming announced Audi A6, Audi A8, and Chevrolet Cruze, a number of diesel SUV and crossover models are also on the horizon for introduction within the next 18 months, including the Audi Q5 crossover, a diesel version of Jeep's popular Grand Cherokee midsize SUV, Ford's announcement of a diesel option in the upcoming T-series vans, and the Mercedes-Benz GLK250 Bluetec. Mazda has also announced the Skyactiv-D diesel will be sold in the U.S. soon as well, although it's unclear whether the U.S. will get it first in a new Mazda6 sedan or CX-5 crossover.
By market sector in the U.S., diesels have traditionally been most popular in three-quarter and 1-ton pickups, with sector penetration of more than 50 percent in the segment.
Source: Diesel Technology Forum