Total diesel sales, which account for 3 percent of U.S. sales today, jumped 35 percent in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.
This confirms the trend upwards for diesel car sales, which grew more than 27 percent last year, according to the Diesel Technology Forum. Market research firm Baum and Associates predicts diesels to account for 6 percent of car sales by 2015.
With its TDI powered vehicles, VW is at the forefront of this growth and is essentially the only player offering relatively affordable diesel vehicles in North America. VW will soon be challenged in this market by GM’s Chevrolet.
The planned U.S. introduction of a 2.0-liter clean turbo diesel version of the Chevrolet Cruze next year is expected to benefit from growing interest in diesel cars.
The fact that GM did not previously offer diesel-powered cars in North America does not mean it is new to this segment. General Motors sold more than half a million diesel-powered cars across Europe, Asia, Africa and South America last year, including 33,000 Cruzes.
According to GM, the 2.0-liter clean turbo diesel engine under the hood of the pending North American Cruze has resolved drawbacks consumers associated with older generation diesel cars, such as excessive engine noise, exhaust soot and smell. Precisely controlled common rail direct-injection fuel systems help create a smooth-running engine and is one of the many technical solutions that help improve diesel engines, especially when compared to the ones offered by GM 30 years ago.
About one of every two U.S. service stations now offers diesel fuel, up from one in three a few years ago, according to Diesel Technology Forum. In the United States, diesel fuel typically costs between 25 and 40 cents per gallon more than gasoline, but the difference has been trending downward the past couple of years.