Clean diesel car sales up 35 percent in 1st quarter; more choices coming

(April 18, 2012) WASHINGTON — Clean diesel automobile sales in the United States increased an impressive 35 percent during the first quarter of 2012 continuing the strong gains in diesel car purchases in 2011, according to new sales information compiled by HybridCars.Com and Baum and Associates.

The U.S. sales of clean diesel autos increased 39.6 percent in March 2012 over March 2011, 42.9 percent in February, and 21.2 percent in January.

During the first quarter, U.S. hybrid car sales increased 37.2 percent and the emerging plug-in electric car market saw a sales increase of 323 percent.  The overall automobile market increased 13.4 percent in 2012, according to the new sales information.

"This 35 percent increase in clean diesel auto sales during the first quarter of 2012 is a continuation of the 27 percent sales jump in 2011," said Allen Schaeffer, the executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum.

"With higher fuel prices, Americans are seeking more fuel efficient cars so it's understandable that diesel and hybrid cars are showing such impressive sales increases. In addition, 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.

"American drivers are also recognizing the environmental benefits of the new clean diesel technology," Schaeffer said.  "Earlier this month, the Mercedes-Benz S 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY clean diesel received the 2012 World Green Car' award during the New York International Auto Show.  This followed the January announcement that the Volkswagen Passat TDI clean diesel had been selected the '2012 Earth, Wind & Power Car of the Year for Most Earth Friendly' automobile.

"I expect clean diesel auto sales to increase further as several new diesel cars are introduced in the U.S. market in the next year," Schaeffer said.

The 2012 Porsche Cayenne clean diesel has just been introduced into the U.S. market and the following auto makers have announced plans to sell additional new clean diesel autos in the U.S.:

    • Audi announced that it would be selling an Audi A6, A8 and Q5 TDI diesel in the U.S. in 2013.  The A4 may still see a diesel version in 2014 or even as early as 2013.
    • Chrysler announced that it will be introducing a Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel in 2013 or 2014, and possibly other Jeep diesels later.  They also plan a new version of the discontinued Dakota pickup that will include a diesel, but timing is uncertain.
    • Ford will offer diesel and gasoline engines in the new Transit full-size commercial van that goes on sale in the U.S. next year.
    • General Motors announced that a diesel version of the Cadillac ATS would available in the U.S. in the near future.  A diesel version of the hot-selling 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 here.
    • The Mercedes S350 BlueTEC marks the return of the diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz S-Class to the United States in 2012 after a 17-year absence.  Mercedes also still plans to bring a diesel in the GLK and C-class for a total of eight diesel models by 2014.
    • The newly redesigned 2012 VW Beetle will once again feature a TDI diesel version with the possible introduction of a Tiguan diesel later.