Despite being more fuel efficient than their gasoline counterparts, American buyers haven’t traditionally opted for diesel-fueled vehicles. However, a growing number of people are starting to buy them, as clean diesel cars sales are up 35 percent so far this year.
Oil burners catching on
Diesel cars haven’t really caught on in the United States despite other developed countries buying as many or more diesel cars compared with gas-powered cars. For example, according to the BBC, 50.6 percent of new cars bought by British car buyers were diesels last year.
Granted, part of the reason diesels haven’t caught on, according to Popular Mechanics, is diesel fuel has cost more than gasoline for the better part of the past decade because of higher taxes being levied on diesel fuel. Diesel is also less refined than gasoline, which means the engines require additional engineering to burn it, which means they are more expensive. They are also less powerful. However, more people, according to AutoBlog, are starting to opt for diesel engines these days.
Sales up 35 percent since January 1
In the first quarter of this year, clean diesel car sales shot up by 35 percent overall. February and March diesel car sales were barnstorming, as diesel sales increased by 42.9 percent and 39.6 percent, respectively, according to the Chicago Tribune, compared to a 21.2 percent increase in clean diesel car sales in January.
The spike in diesel sales is part of a trend; diesel sales were up 27 percent last year. However, they still are only a small part of overall car sales. Diesels make up only about 3 percent of overall car sales; hybrids represent less than 3 percent and electric cars less than 1 percent. However, diesels account for 50 percent of heavy truck sales, according to Truck Trend magazine.
Most of the diesel cars being sold, though, are German, which means they are a bit more expensive than other cars. Forty-four percent of all diesel cars sold in the U.S., according to AutoBlog, were Volkswagen Jetta TDIs. Volkswagen sells 58 percent of all diesel cars in the U.S.
More on the way
A slew of car companies are readying diesel models for 2013. Mazda, for instance, is rumored to be bringing a diesel model of the next Mazda6 and CX-5 next year. General Motors has diesel models of the Chevrolet Cruze and Cadillac ATS due next year. Audi will start selling diesel versions of the A6, A8 and Q5 next year as well.
Chrysler is releasing a diesel Jeep Grand Cherokee sometime in the future, along with additional diesel Jeeps and a diesel variant of the successor to the Dakota pickup, when Ram releases it.
Mercedes is releasing a diesel S-Class soon, the S350 BlueTEC, and plans eight diesel models by 2014.