They might get impressive gas mileage and be great for towing, but it isn’t a secret that most Americans hate diesel-powered cars. 

Historically, diesel-powered cars account for less than one percent of all new passenger car sales in the U.S., but according to data released by a non-profit advocacy group called the Diesel Technology Forum, sales of diesel-powered cars in the U.S. have risen by nearly 40 percent in one year. 

With more automakers introducing diesel cars to the U.S. market, the advocacy group predicts sales of diesel cars will continue to increase in coming months, but are diesel cars about to really undergo a surge in popularity? 

It’s still a small figure

Unlike some european countries, where sales of diesel-powered cars account for more than 50 percent of all cars sold, sales figures in the U.S. are still extremely slow. 

An increase in sales of 39.6 percent may sound impressive, but the press release fails to give solid figures for how many cars that equates to. 

As any mathematician will tell you, 39.6 percent of a low denominator is a very small figure.  In this case, it equates to an increase of just 40,243 cars in a market totaling nearly 13 million cars. 

For comparison, Toyota has now sold over 20,000 Prius V hybrid in the six months since launch. 

U.S. to get diesel and hybrid Q7 SUVs this year

U.S. to get diesel and hybrid Q7 SUVs this year

Small numbers of cars available

In 2010, there were fourteen diesel-powered models available to buy. Today, that number has increased to seventeen. 

For reference, there are more than 15 electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles available to buy in the U.S., and 42 hybrids.

In other words, just like plug-in cars, overall availability of diesel-powered cars remains extremely low, and nowhere near as large as the modest market share of conventional hybrid cars. 

More coming, sales will decide

Although diesel cars remain irrelevant for most U.S. car buyers, many automakers are working hard to offer diesel engine options for some popular cars. 

For consumers, the increased green choice is a good thing, especially if it allows customers, not automakers, to decide which powertrain is best for their needs. 

In some areas of the U.S., most noticeably in states like California, Washington and Oregon, diesel sales are likely to increase thanks to increased availability, but until the cost of buying and running a diesel car starts to drop, small diesels won’t dominate the U.S. car market. 


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