When Americans rejected diesel-powered cars as smokey, wheezy, and loud in the early 80s, Europeans continued to embrace the technology for its excellent fuel efficiency, refinement, and torque—pulling force of an engine. Of course, it didn’t help that the American-designed passenger car diesels of the era were some of the worst engines ever to infest our planet.
But, as luck would have it, Americans are coming back to the diesel bandwagon for the first time in decades. And en masse, might we add.
According to statistics gathered by the Diesel Technology Forum, the diesel car and crossover segment is up 35 percent through the first quarter of 2012 when compared to last year. For those needing a month-by-month breakdown, that means January’s numbers were up 21.2 percent, February’s were up 42.9 percent, and March’s were up 39.6 percent. By comparison, the overall U.S. auto market is up 13.4 percent in the first quarter, and hybrid sales increased 37.2 percent.
So what could be causing the fluctuation? How about the ridiculously high gas prices sweeping the nation? Maybe the counter-cultural appeal of diesels as a reminder of those hipsters with their veggie oil-powered 1970s Mercedes-Benz diesels? Maybe they’re simply that good? Probably a little from all three.
“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,” says Allen Schaeffer, the Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum, in a statement. ”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 percent more fuel efficient than gasoline versions.”
The plucky Diesel Technology Forum noted a long list of pending diesel entries in the U.S., including the:
- Audi A6, A8, and Q5
- Jeep Grand Cherokee
- Next-generation Ram Dakota
- Ford Transit commercial van
- Cadillac ATS
- Chevrolet Cruze
- Mazdas equipped with the SkyActiv-D engine
- Mercedes-Benz C- and GLK-Classes
- Volkswagen Beetle and Tiguan
The organization anticipates diesel sales will continue to rise in the U.S., joining what used to be just a handful of Volkswagens and Mercedes-Benzes. If they’ll end up easing our burden at the pump, we say they can’t come soon enough.
Source: Diesel Technology Forum