One In 10 New Vehicles Will Be Diesel In 2015, Bosch Says; Here's Why

Follow John

'Diesel fuel only' caution on Audi Q7 TDI

'Diesel fuel only' caution on Audi Q7 TDI

Enlarge Photo

Hybrids have fans, diesels have fans, and while they produce their best fuel economy under different circumstances, each one tends to be a greener choice than a conventional gasoline car.

But passenger cars with diesels are now just a tiny part of the U.S. market (less than 1 percent) compared to hybrids, which have stayed between 2 and 3 percent of sales for several years.

Now Bosch, the German auto-parts maker, thinks that's about to change--and in a big way.

Carnegie-Mellon study

By 2015, the company projects, fully one in 10 new cars sold in the U.S. will have a diesel engine. The estimate is based on a study of public understanding of diesels and factors affecting diesel purchase that the company asked Carnegie Mellon University to undertake in 2009.

Now, data from CNW Research says that with greater awareness of new clean diesels, and a lower cost premium for diesel fuel against gasoline--unlike 2008, when gasoline soared to $4 but diesel passed $5 in some markets--public receptiveness to choosing diesels is at new highs.

The attractive features are fuel efficiency up to 30 percent higher, and the convenience of a driving range up to 700 miles. For owners who analyze total cost of ownership, diesels can also provide lower lifetime running costs despite their higher initial purchase price and more expensive fuel--due to their higher residual values.

2008-2011 take rate on diesel engine option when offered within vehicle lines [data: Bosch]

2008-2011 take rate on diesel engine option when offered within vehicle lines [data: Bosch]

Enlarge Photo

Bosch makes high-pressure injectors, fuel pumps, and other components for diesel vehicles, so it has a stake in seeing sales rise.

But Lars Ulrich, the company's director of diesel marketing, told Green Car Reports that the big change is in which carmakers are planning to bring diesels to market.

VW, Mercedes have history

Historically, Volkswagen has sold the most diesel cars in the U.S., led by its Jetta TDI compact sedan. Mercedes-Benz has the longest history of diesel sales in the U.S., a half-century or more, but its cars are hardly mass-market.

More recently, Audi (with its A3 TDI and Q7 TDI) and BMW (with diesel versions of its 3-Series sedan and X5 sport utility) have joined the list.

But two upcoming diesel models will be the ones that kick U.S. diesel sales volumes into a new and higher tier, Ulrich suggested.

Major models: Cruze, Grand Cherokee

They are the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze, which will offer a 2.0-liter diesel model early next year, and the diesel version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee that Chrysler will start building next year.

2012 Chevrolet Cruze

2012 Chevrolet Cruze

The Cruze is a compact sedan, the Grand Cherokee is a well-known sport utility. Each sells in enormous volume (2011 Cruze sales were 232,000, with 128,000 Grand Cherokees sold last year).

If even a small percentage of those sales--optimistically, 10 percent--are diesels, the total sold in 2014 could rise substantially from its 2011 level of roughly 100,000.

Ten-time jump in two years?

We remain to be convinced that the number will soar from 1 percent to 10 percent in just a couple of years. That would be 1.5 million vehicles if 2015 sales are 15 million vehicles.

The diesel-share data Bosch uses (2.8 percent in 2011) also includes all diesel pickup trucks, since they carry passengers, as well as passenger cars and light trucks.

More than half of heavy-duty pickups are now bought with diesels, so that skews the numbers higher--though few car buyers consider them as family vehicles.

More options on the way

Still, more diesels are definitely on the way. A diesel Mazda, most likely its new CX-5 compact crossover, is likely to arrive next year.

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Enlarge Photo

And Audi too will begin selling its highest-volume model, the A4 sport sedan, as a TDI diesel--in 2015 or so.

For the record, this year will see another new diesel vehicle coming to the U.S. from another maker. It's the 2013 Porsche Cayenne Diesel, the first diesel vehicle in the German sports-car maker's history.

But the oil-burning Porsche will be a low-volume model, fewer than 5,000 a year--just like the Audi Q7 TDI, with which it shares a lineage.

Tell us your thoughts

It's the Cruze and the Grand Cherokee that will lead the way toward new U.S. appreciation of diesels.

Or so says Bosch. What do you think?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.


Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow Us

Comments (32)
  1. "CNW Research" oh boy. Isn't that the same "research" organization that developed the report (widely discredited) that the Prius to be more environmentally damaging than a Hummer.

    Bosch might want to get a second opinion.

  2. I doubt if they would even like a second opinion since they are so heavily into diesels. Anything positive to further their interests is OK. The feedback I am getting from various dealers is diesels are a pain on the secoond hand market. They can spout about clean all they want but it takes expensive service maintenance to keep them clean and this is what dealers are having to contend with to resell them,so much for resale values.Diesels are work horse's and need this environment to function properly. Driven sedately or on and off in a hybrid context your asking for trouble. IMHO yes they have attribute's but not in the context of personal transport.

  3. I starting to sound like a broken record.
    CNW very well has a point...where in the manufacturing process of a Hummer is toxic waste a byproduct? Where in the mining process of the materials required to build a Hummer even remotely as toxic as rare earth mining? All of the products noted in the video (other than cars) cannot function without rare earth materials. Cars have been functioning without them for over 100 years, and the diesel engine has been powering cars since the 1930s. Hybrid cars make the products that NEED rare earth materials more expensive due to creating an unnecessary demand. Hybrids being "green" is an illusion that too many (including green car reports) have vested interests in.

  4. @Randall: Your friendly site moderator here. Yes, you are sounding like a broken record. This is an article about diesels, yet once again you are posting about the supposed environmental catastrophe represented by cars with some degree of electrification in the powertrain.

    First, please confine your comments to the topic of the article you're posting on.

    Second, I've seen variations of the comment above from you for quite some time now on this site. If your sole comment is to regurgitate the same info over & over & over without adding anything new, please stop.

  5. John Briggs was claiming that the CNW research's conclusion that the Prius was more toxic than the Hummer was unfounded. My comment @John Briggs(and good ole link) supported CNW's conclusion. I went off topic because JB went off topic. I then took my point and then rolled it back into the topic of diesels. A point that should have been made in this article is that diesel engines are far simpler than gasoline engines. Fewer components means fewer things to break, thus greater reliability built into the design. I rarely hear this truth.

  6. This website is about the same topic. The articles don't stray too far from the point of this website. The comments by readers tend to be regurgitations of the same statements. It is only natural that my response postings are variations of my points. My points tend to not be warm, fuzzy, and heartwarming so they stand out. If you want to get a different response from me, try to talk about things like Audi conquering prototype racing with a diesel or Porsche using flywheel technology for racing a hybrid.

  7. Well, sadly for you, electric cars no longer use nickel-medal hydride batteries, which was the main argument against them. Lithium is common and recyclable, and is not toxic. Yes, some small amounts of rare-Earths are needed, but those are fully recyclable and no different than how the hummer requires platinum. Also remember that while lithium batteries are recyclable, the tons of oil a hummer burns is not, and that is much worse anyway. A toxic oil spill is more harmful than the mining that went into every single electric car on the road.

  8. Research validity notwithstanding, it's about time Americans got over their bias against diesels that was formed 30 years ago. Times, and diesel technology, have changed. I drive a 2009 BMW 335d that averages 33 mpg overall. That's a 3.0L six-cylinder, two-turbo motor. BMW's four-cylinder European 2.0L turbo diesel would do much better in the mpg department if they'd just bring it to the US, which they eventually will.

  9. Too bad the diesel smog score is 6 out of 10 rather than 9 out of 10 for a hybrid. (higher is better)

    Oh and the carbon emission is for the diesel closer to 300g/mile compared to closer to 200g/mile for a decent hybrid. (smaller is better)

    So maybe the Americans got it about right.

  10. Diesel Exhaust Fluid has taken care of the smog issue, and now can clean the air in California

  11. Sorry, check the EPA website, those are the smog scores for California and the Diesel is much worse.

  12. Then why does California certify diesels at all? It meets their ridiculous standards...period.

  13. actually, the diesel is much better... thanks to california being the largest car market in the u.s., the manufacturers have to comply with that state's strict emissions standards in order to make their cars "50-state legal"... so with my VW Jetta TDI manual transmission I only get 50 mpg overall, instead of the 60+ I would get in Europe. ...and my diesel looks better and accelerates better than your prius, and those things will never change ;-) ...hybrids are better if you do 80% city driving (stop signs and traffic lights). If you do 80% freeway driving, even with a lot of traffic, the diesel will always win on mpg (assuming you don't drive like an idiot, which would ruin your mpg in any hybrid just as well).

  14. Clearly it is no surprise that Bosch would be promoting the use of diesels, but I think the US market will be shocked by how the Cruze Diesel flies off dealers forecourts ( provided it is sensibly priced - 5-10% dearer than the petrol equivalent )
    As the market become more familiar with diesels the residuals will improve as well because of the high mileages diesel engines can sustain.
    Used Diesels in the UK actually attract a premium, particularly if they are an SUV.
    Consumer behaviour will be different for sure in the US but not as different as the manufacturers would have us believe . It is just laziness on their part that has prevented more diesel models being available.
    I think the diesel will surprise the US market yet.

  15. Jeremy this assumption has been around for years and you may be right about the cruze since we are in a strange state of flux.
    The diesel is still not the answer though,to perpetuate this old technology will only delay the direction we should be going toward. Its a delay tactic, an easy out based on slightly more bang for your buck but not the solution to get off oil. Unfortunately the buying public are short of any visionary abilities and want instant relief from high gas prices.Thats why we are where we are today.

  16. "Old technology" is all that I hear. Get with the program people, the old diesel is GONE. The new technology used in today's diesel is nothing like the "old technology." It's changed enough to be considered "new technology" now.

  17. @Albert: Aside from turbocharging and higher-pressure direct injectors, what's "new"? The principles of diesel combustion have stayed pretty much the same ...

  18. Well, new pollution treatment measures for one. New fuel processing measures for another. Ultra-low sulfur combined with particulate filtration methods and post filtration chemical treatments (urea injection) has allowed the consumer reap the benefits of diesel without all the smog belching negatives that diesel USED to be. Proof is in the tailpipe. You'll see very little soot if any at all on the passenger diesels rolling around these days in europe and canada.

  19. @Albert: Ah, OK, so largely changes to the fuel itself that permit more sophisticated aftertreatment. You're right about very little soot from Eurodiesels, and U.S. standards are more stringent yet.

    The head of VW Group powertrain told me that when Euro 6 emissions standards arrive (2-3 yrs), VW will make no diesels smaller than about 1.6 liters--the aftertreatment is just too pricey for anything smaller than that compared to the total cost of the car/engine.

  20. Interesting. Also equally interesting is Mazda's new Skyactiv-D Diesel engines that have the lowest compression ratio (14:1) diesel engine out there. The low compression combined with their filtration system allows them to not have to have the urea after treatments. Increased efficiency and don't have to spend additional costs on after treatments.

  21. In India Diesel sales skyrocketed from 20% to 60% in just 2 years. Clearly diesel has the potential and also diesels vehicles generally has 25% better mileage than Petrol(Gas) vehicles.

  22. That may be true Jay but is India as restrictive when it comes to emissions?

  23. I live in North Carolina and have two VW clean diesels (2010/2011) and am averaging upper 30s mpg with both for mostly city driving. The older car with 36000 miles has been getting 44 mpg on the highway. Compared to the gas models of the same car, that is a 40% improvement.

    I know most will argue that the hybrids do better but when was the last time you drove each model back to back? how does your prius feel on the highway cruising at 70 - 75 mph and what kind of mileage are you getting at that point?

  24. The Prius feels much better at zero MPH with the engine shut off at the traffic light rather than a TDI making its muted tractor noises.

  25. That is if it stops at the light

  26. sound to alert pedestrians that they are about to cross the path of a silent heavy mass. I would rather walk the streets of London where the cars are driving the opposite direction than walk in a city full of Priuses. At least I would have a couple of seconds to jump out of the way than have a plastic bumper ruin my day. Our beloved over-regulating govt will then require artificial sound be added to the Prius. I am sure that the sounds of the diesel will the most popular artificial noise requested by the public. There goes your assertion that no noise is good noise. I guarantee that this will happen.

  27. @ ncskibum my Prius feels just fine at any speed, you seem to imply it might feel stressed at higher speeds,I can assure you it isn't.In case you might question my ability to know the difference I have owned a V12 Ferrari, a Bentley and numerous other's but the Prius disregarding a Leaf is the most advanced car i've ever owned, no way would I return to a diesel or the other's I have had!

  28. Yeah but your prius will always be low-torque and ugly ;-)

  29. You wrecked the whole report by using CNW as a source. After their now "infamous" cradle to grave study, naming the Hummer as a more ECO friendly car than the Prius (which has been debunked, but continues to be quoted, ala Jeremy Clarkson, Top Gear and others). I seem to lose interest in the rest of the article.

  30. I'll post it again just for you.


  31. OF course it will! As the Navy, train companies, and trucks change over to natural gas, diesel prices will plummet! The two largest diesel consumers, the Navy and BNSF, switch to Natural Gas America will switch to diesel to reap the benefits of a cheaper-than-gas alternative that gets higher milage. Sadly people do not realize electric is an even better option.

  32. I rented a recent model diesel car; it was great and the fuel mileage plus distance between fill-ups are wonderful. Its slightly more ecological also, so my next car will likely be a diesel.

Commenting is closed for old articles.

Get FREE Dealer Quotes

From dealers near you

Find Green Cars


© 2015 Green Car Reports. All Rights Reserved. Green Car Reports is published by High Gear Media. Send us feedback. Stock photography by izmo, Inc.