The U.S. auto industry has seen a 56% increase in demand for diesel-powered vehicles over the past five years, according to a study released last week by the Diesel Technology Forum. Annual registration of new diesel passenger vehicles rose from 301,000 in 2000 to nearly 470,000 in 2004, the trade group said.
"In this era of sky-high gas prices, Americans are looking to diesel as a readily available solution to help alleviate their pain at the pump," said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. "More and more drivers are discovering diesel is a fuel-sipping alternative that doesn't require sacrificing either power or performance." Diesel-powered vehicles are popular because of their fuel-efficiency: they typically get 20 to 40% more miles to the gallon than a comparable gasoline car, the trade group said.
Despite the recent gains, diesel still represents a small fraction of the roughly 16 million vehicles sold in the U.S. last year. Diesel sales in the U.S. market are limited by strict emissions standards. In Europe, about 44% of all new vehicle sold are diesel-powered, according to Association Auxiliarie de l'Automobile.
The Diesel Technology Forum said a growth in demand for diesel-powered vehicles would also reduce the U.S. reliance on foreign oil. Citing a Department of Energy report, the trade group said a 30% market penetration of diesel vehicles by 2020 would reduce U.S. net crude oil imports by 350,000 barrels per day.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2005