Study says diesel sales to outpace hybrids in US

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VW Golf clean diesel

The VW Golf clean diesel car. Image: jiazi/Flickr/CC BY-SA

Rising fuel costs and increased fuel economy regulations will see a rise in the sales of fuel efficient vehicles worldwide. That is a given. A Pike Marketing report predicts, however, that the sales of clean diesel vehicles will also rise, to become about 12.4 percent of the world’s light-duty vehicle market. That will be true even in the U.S., where it predicts they will outsell hybrids.

Clean diesel engines

In recent years, the clean diesel engine has become much more efficient, due to increased regulatory pressure in Europe, Japan and the U.S.

Lisa Jerram, a senior analyst at Pike research, wrote:

“Demand for diesel cars is primarily driven by their fuel economy. A diesel vehicle typically gets 20 percent to 40 percent better fuel economy than a comparable gasoline car.”

Move over, hybrids

According to Pike’s “Clean Diesel Vehicles” report, about 9.1 million clean diesel vehicles will be sold globally in 2012. It says that will increase to 13.1 million in six years. Meanwhile, Pike also predicts the sales of hybrids will decrease.

In spite of this, Pike believes hybrids are here to stay, but as a niche vehicle. The report also foresees the market rise of natural gas vehicles, which it says will also eventually outpace hybrids and plug-ins.

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 ‘Tremendously popular in Europe’

Clean diesels have been selling well in Europe for some time.

Jerram wrote:

“[Fuel economy], along with favorable tax treatment for diesel fuel, has made diesel cars tremendously popular in Europe, where they have accounted for around 50 percent of light-duty vehicle sales over the past several years.”

Global growth

Pike says that the highest number of sales will be seen in Eastern Europe, where diesels have traditionally performed the strongest. But it believes the greatest growth will be seen in other markets, like the U.S. The global rate of sales will increase by about 4.8 percent before 2018, says Pike.

American acceptance

However, diesel vehicles have never caught on with the American car buyer. Pike is predicting that increased governmental pressure and the rising cost of gas will foster their greater acceptance in years to come.

If Pike is correct, the U. S. will outstrip Canada with an increase of 22 percent in clean diesel sales by 2018, or to just under 1 million units per year.

Pike Research

Pike Research is a market research firm based in Boulder, Colo. that analyzes trends in global clean technology markets.


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