Diesel Sales Trending Upward; Chevy Gearing Up

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.


  • Van

    We need a study of diesel particulate matter emission, i.e how much greater is the health risk to those living and playing near heavy traffic. I think this problem needs exposure. If we turn to diesel to reduce CO2 emissions, with no known health effects, and unleash life shortening particulate matter, we would be stumbling around like the guy at the end of David Lean’s classic, The Bridge on the River Kwai, mumbling “what have I done!”

  • Max Reid

    Gasoline also is harmful to health especially with more and more Heavy Crude oil coming to market. So no use in blaming Diesel.

    Its easily to convert Carbon rich Heavy Oil to Diesel than Gasoline which may consume more Hydrogen.

    So its ideal to have some vehicles run on Diesel. More ideal is to bring in CNG which is very clean. It will be good if the vehicle has 50-80 mile CNG range with the rest coming from Gasoline / Diesel. If we have a compressor at home, we can do most of the distance on Natgas alone.

  • Van

    Diesels emit particulate matter in much higher concentrations than gasoline engines. Not to mention NOX.

    Once the gasoline is refined from the crude, the gasoline is the same. You just get fewer gallons for the same refining cost for heavy crude.

    What would be idea is to be able to breath exhaust air, but for now, whether a diesel or a gas engine, the exhaust will kill us. So rather than switching from gas to diesel, we should switch to electric produced by natural gas, hydro, nuclear, and renewables.

  • Max Reid

    I am with you Van.

    Moving to Electric will be great. But look at the cost of EVs. I do agree that the drive will be smooth, but still 100% extra cost cannot be afforded by many. May be they can follow the European concept, where the EVs are sold at the same price as gas vehicle, but the battery is rented for Euro 50 – 80 / month which is same as what we pay at the gas station for a month.

  • anonymous

    Oil companies are hiding the important truth.

    Of late, more heavy oil is coming to market. In order to make motor fuel, refineries are using Hydrogen as diluent. This way nearly 85 million tons of Hydrogen is used.

    Crude with API above 35 degrees is considered as light crude.

    This 1 in Venezuela used API 8 degrees and uses Hydrogen to make it thinner.

    http://www.ogj.com/articles/print/volume-99/issue-20/special-report/aquaconversion-technology-offers-added-value-to-e-venezuela-synthetic-crude-oil-production.html

  • Jay

    Diesel fine dust particles and in particular the smallest respirable dust that is not filtered with the advanced filter technology account for an estimated of 25% of the 60000 fine particle deaths in Germany. A few months ago I listend to a study from the European Union. According to this study Germany has an estimated 60000 people annually that die due to fine dust and in particular to the smallest respirable fine dust. It further looks like the the fine dust seems to come percentage wise from roughly 4 sources: 25% from Diesel engines, 25% from tires, 25% from coal power plants and 25% from other sources.
    So Diesel engine has a death toll that a society has to be willing to pay for.
    It is often said that Diesel engines are more efficient than gasoline engines. That is true to some aspects only. A Diesel at the same time issues 13% more CO2. But why care about CO2. We pay for the gallon!

  • wxman

    Many studies have shown that particle emissions from current diesel technology (i.e., with filters) are indistinguishable from background levels. Thus, emissions are no longer an issue with diesels.

  • gregsfc

    Diesel power, as a way to further diversify our personal transportation fleet, is a good thing, as long as we don’t go overboard and simply replace our gas-dominated society with a diesel-dominated society.

    Diesels have the advantage of being far more fuel flexible as gas engine technologies without efficiency loss, and the efficiency advantage that they have will always trump spark-ignition. All the alternatives for spark-ignition come at a heavy price; usually reduced fuel economy; the need for tweaking the air-to-fuel ratio, which means vehicle modification to accommodate the alternative fuel, and severely decreased range as with CNG vehicles.

    With diesels, one can currently opt for biodiesel blends without doing anything except seeking out the fuel and showing some precautions in very cold weather. The opportunity for developing other alternatives for diesels, renewable and otherwise, is also great.

    The biggest disadvantage for diesels today, especially in the U.S. where we now have only one emission standard regardless of fuel type, is the cost to make them emission compliant. In years past, there were the added disadvantages of negative perceptions and inferior performance and refinement as compared to gas-engine technologies; but these disadvantages have gone away due to thirty years of great engineering in Europe and the slowly changing public perception in North America that reflects an understanding of that great engineering work.

  • gregsfc

    Diesel power, as a way to further diversify our personal transportation fleet, is a good thing, as long as we don’t go overboard and simply replace our gas-dominated society with a diesel-dominated society.

    Diesels have the advantage of being far more fuel flexible as gas engine technologies without efficiency loss, and the efficiency advantage that they have will always trump spark-ignition. All the alternatives for spark-ignition come at a heavy price; usually reduced fuel economy; the need for tweaking the air-to-fuel ratio, which means vehicle modification to accommodate the alternative fuel, and severely decreased range as with CNG vehicles.

    With diesels, one can currently opt for biodiesel blends without doing anything except seeking out the fuel and showing some precautions in very cold weather. The opportunity for developing other alternatives for diesels, renewable and otherwise, is also great.

    The biggest disadvantage for diesels today, especially in the U.S. where we now have only one emission standard regardless of fuel type, is the cost to make them emission compliant. In years past, there were the added disadvantages of negative perceptions and inferior performance and refinement as compared to gas-engine technologies; but these disadvantages have gone away due to thirty years of great engineering in Europe and the slowly changing public perception in North America that reflects an understanding of that great engineering work.