With gas prices reaching record levels, consumers are showing an appetite for diesel-fueled cars, which are 20 to 40 percent more fuel efficient than gasoline-powered cars. A study by R.L. Polk & Co. shows that registration of diesel passenger vehicles in the U.S. — including cars, trucks and SUVs — has grown 80 percent from 2000 to 2005.
In 2000, there were 301,000 diesel cars on the road. That number hit 543,777 in 2005. In the light-duty market — cars, as opposed to SUVs and trucks — the growth was 95 percent. Gas prices have spiked in just the past two years, so it's not surprising to find that 2005 alone experienced a 31 percent growth spike in diesel car sales. Researchers at J.D. Power and Associates predict that diesel sales will approximately triple in the next 10 years, accounting for more than 10 percent of U.S. vehicle sales by 2015, up from 3.6 percent last year.
Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the industry group, Diesel Technology Forum, attributes the growth directly to gas prices. "In this era of sky-high gasoline prices, Americans are increasingly looking to diesel as a readily available solution to help alleviate their pain at the pump," says Schaeffer. "Gasoline hybrids and flexible-fueled ethanol vehicles aren't the only fuel-efficient choices consumers have today."