Diesel Tech Forum Remains Optimistic about Clean Diesel

The Diesel Technology Forum says that despite the Dieselgate scandal, the diesel “take rate” doubled by the end of 2016 and that the American public largely remains open to considering clean diesel vehicles.

Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, issued a public statement regarding the status of diesel passenger vehicle sales in the U.S., noting that despite some “dire” forecasts, fallout from the scandal was limited.

“Much has been said and predicted about the viability of diesel in passenger cars, trucks and SUVs in the U.S. in the wake of the ‘dieselgate’ emissions scandal. Diesel sales started 2016 at their lowest point – 0.43 percent of all vehicle sales in January, according to HybridCars.com data – and some analysts issued dire projections about diesel’s future here.

“However, by the end of 2016, the diesel ‘take rate’ almost doubled to 0.81 percent in December. Cumulatively, 115,337 diesels were sold in the U.S. in 2016, and this does not include many of the domestic heavy-duty diesel pickup truck sales where diesel has over 10 percent of the market share.

“Even with the loss of 13 VW Group of America vehicles from the U.S. market, as well as delays in government product certifications for other manufacturers, 2016 diesel sales have regained about 20 percent of VW’s previous diesel market share.”

He continues, “It is to be expected that with fewer choices and lower fuel prices, the sales of fuel-efficient clean diesels might decline, but what we’re seeing is that consumers have not lost confidence in diesel.

“SUVs and light trucks largely carried the U.S. diesel market in 2016, in addition to smaller numbers of luxury cars and SUV diesel options.”

Further, Schaeffer says that the forum’s research suggests that many Americans remain open to considering clean diesel options.

“In the last 18 months, our public opinion research has continued to reinforce the idea that Americans continue to keep an open mind about potential clean diesel vehicle purchases – even in the wake of the recent emissions scandal. The 2016 sales trends validate those perceptions.

“On the eve of the 2017 North American International Auto Show, we remain optimistic about the momentum for diesels in the coming years. In 2017, we anticipate new product launches to boost the market, ranging from the Chevrolet’s Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel, Cruze Hatchback Clean Turbo Diesel and Equinox Clean Turbo Diesel, to the highly anticipated Mazda SKYACTIV-D CX-5 diesel SUV.

“These are in addition to other automakers who have made recent moves to expand the U.S. diesel market, like GMC, Mercedes, Ford, Ram, Jeep, Land Rover, Jaguar and Nissan.”

According to Schaeffer, “With tighter fuel efficiency standards coming into play in the U.S., along with growing demand for greener choices, we have no doubt that the new and established diesels will play a major role in the expanding growth of clean diesel technology in the domestic market.

“The new generation of clean diesel passenger vehicles with proven real-world fuel efficiency offer about 30 percent better fuel efficiency than comparable gasoline vehicles. These vehicles are clean with low CO2 emissions, they provide great performance, and they are renewable fuel-ready. Because of all this, we are extremely optimistic about the future of diesel passenger vehicles in the U.S.,” he concludes.

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