Prospects for diesel engine vehicles in the U.S. light vehicle market are positive, in the face of high gasoline prices and increased manufacturer interest in offering diesel options, according to a research report published by just-auto.com. With hybrids still the most popular alternative to gasoline in the U.S. auto market mix, European manufacturers are the most likely to seize the diesel initiative, as they have market ready products, but much depends on pricing, just-auto research suggests. The report also notes that hybrids are seen as cutting edge in contrast with diesel technology, though that is beginning to change with developments such as Mercedes-Benz ‘BlueTec.’ The researchers note that there were very few light duty diesel models available to the domestic U.S. car buyer during 2005; but diesel availability is changing. Mercedes-Benz is to start marketing the S-Class with a diesel option, and BMW has announced that it too is to test the waters during 2007, most probably with a diesel-powered X5 SUV. Ford and GM are unlikely to produce and legitimize a diesel product for the U.S. mass market, according to the study, despite the fact that both companies have ongoing diesel development projects. Varying emissions regulations within the U.S. have also made marketing a single diesel solution a problem for vehicle makers on cost grounds and has encouraged Toyota to go down the hybrid path. Year-on-year figures suggest that diesel registrations within the light duty segment rose by 30 percent in 2005, and by 95 percent since 2000, from 22,543 units in 2000 to 44,031 in 2005.
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