Take-Rates for Clean Diesel Beat Those for Hybrids

Give consumers a vehicle with a choice between a gas engine and a clean diesel engine, and about 30 percent of them will choose the diesel. This statistic comes come from analysis by Bosch, a leading supplier of diesel systems, based on date from R.L. Polk & Co., and reported today by Green Car Congress. Bosch studied the buying trends for a one-year period starting in January 2009.

The clean-diesel “take-rate” is much higher than the percentage of consumers choosing the hybrid version, when a vehicle is offered with both gas and gas-electric hybrid options.

Nearly half of the buyers of the Volkswagen Jetta opted for the clean diesel engine. Meanwhile, about 8 percent of Toyota Camry buyers chose the Camry Hybrid, and the take rate for the Ford Escape Hybrids was about 10 percent.

Bosch’s analysis of Polk data shows these clean-diesel take rates for 2009:

Any conclusion about the overall relative popularity of the two alternative powertrains is complicated by the fact that the Toyota Prius, which represents about half of all hybrid sales—as well as the Honda Insight—are only offered as hybrids.

In April 2009, Toyota sold 12,555 Priuses, while the most popular clean-diesel vehicle was the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, which tallied 3,622 sales.


  • questions

    I am just wondering what others thought about this interpretation of information because Bosch is doing the interpretation. I’m not sure that it has a very significant meaning. Wouldn’t the correct way to compare (though hypothetical) the take rate for a vehicle is one that has gasoline, diesel, and gas-hybrid models? Plus percentages are always confusing when you don’t see the total numbers.

  • usbseawolf2000

    The analysis failed to consider a very important information.

    There is government tax credit to all the diesels while the same incentive does not exist for majority of the hybrids.

  • Dom

    “Wouldn’t the correct way to compare (though hypothetical) the take rate for a vehicle is one that has gasoline, diesel, and gas-hybrid models?”

    Is there such a vehicle for sale? VW will eventually have a hybrid Jetta in addition to the diesel and gasoline models, and I am extremely interested in seeing such a statistic comparison. I’m one of those 30% that would choose a diesel over a gasoline or hybrid given the option in any vehicle (and I have). For me the diesel engine makes sense. Of course, I’m also one of those guys that chooses a manual transmission over an automatic…

  • Yegor

    This comparison definitely does not make sense. It is like comparing apples and oranges. It is a two totally different technologies that have totally different costs to produce and have different fuel efficiency. Hybrid is more expensive to produce and more fuel efficient. Usually if a product is more expensive the less number of products are sold however there are more hybrids sold per month than clean diesels. Conclusion hybrid beats clean diesels.
    I am looking forward for a hybrid with gasoline direct injection engine.

  • Charles

    If the Prius’ just over 50% of hybrid market distorts the hybrid market, what does the VW Jetta do to the Diesel market. My quick YTD calculations show the Jetta at 73% of the clean Diesel market.

    As for government tax credits. The three largest sellers of hybrids (Toyota, Ford and Honda) do not have any tax credits for their hybrids. On the other hand the Jetta gets $1300, and all the other Diesels listed get between $900-$1800 (http://www.fueleconomy.gov/Feg/taxLeanburn.shtml).

    Another distortion could be pent up demand. Hybrids have been around for a while, while clean Diesels are new. Diesel is not new technology, and does not carry the fear (so far unfounded) the some people have for hybrids.

  • caffeinekid

    OK. So lets see how this pans out with a diesel-electric hybrid. I have both a VW TDI and a Prius. I like the Prius for the gadget factor and the TDI for the handling, comfort and acceleration. Neither is what I would consider “competitive” with the other.

  • Peter

    Another problem with this comparison is that not everyone looks at a car and then decides gas or diesel. My guess is that many (if not most) people decide they want a diesel and go looking for one. So they pick the VW because it is a diesel as opposed to picking the diesel version of the VW. This is a great lesson in how to lie with statistics. Same goes for the hybrids. Kind of skews the results.

  • Nelson Lu

    This comparison also failed to account for production limits.

  • Dom

    Peter is right, I’ve read at tdiclub.com that many people that bought a VW diesel because they’re the only affordable diesel car in the US, not because they just had to have a VW (though VW has built a cult following because they’re just about the only game in town). If some of the other automakers brought some of their diesel models to the US, say Subaru or Honda, I suspect there would be plenty of people that would switch immediately. I wish some of these automakers would wake up to this potential market. I for one would be extremely interested in a Subaru with their new boxer diesel engine.