Clean Diesel Makes Inroads in the U.S.; Sees Slowdown in Europe


Tim Dunne

As clean diesel powertrains become more prevalent and popular in the U.S. market, especially in VW and Audi brand product lineups sold here, it appears that diesels are becoming less attractive in the world’s largest diesel market: Europe, according to a recent article, “Are Diesel Cars in Europe Starting a Long Slow Decline?” in Green Car Reports as well as J.D. Power research.

The current reduction in diesels in Europe may be mainly due to new regulations that have been passed by the EU and/or are being considered in individual European countries.

As recently as 2012, the diesel share in the European market was 46.0%, according to Mike Omotoso, senior manager of global powertrain at LMC Automotive, J.D. Power’s strategic partner. In 2013, LMC Automotive projects the diesel share to edge down by slightly more than 1 percentage point to 44.9%, and the outlook for 2014 is for a 44.0% diesel share in Europe—down 2 points from 2012. Continue reading ›

Optimism at New York Show Bodes Well for Global Auto Show Circuit

David Sargent

The global automotive spotlight was shining brightly on the dozens of new model debuts and more than 1,000 vehicles on display earlier this month at the New York International Auto Show. While some of the vehicles shown in New York had already debuted at previous shows in Los Angeles, Detroit or Geneva, Switzerland, many were seen for the first time by the public.

There was an overall buzz at the Javits Center in New York City about the auto industry rebounding to sales levels last seen before the financial crisis of 2008. J.D. Power’s forecasting alliance partner LMC Automotive expects global light-vehicle sales to increase to 79.2 million in 2012, a 5% increase from 2011. All major regions are expected to post stronger sales in 2012, compared with 2011.

Japan is expected to see strong growth with sales of 4.8 million, up 16% from 2011. Sales in India are expected to reach 3.2 million in 2012, up 11% from 2011, while China’s sales are expected to increase 9% to 19.7 million. Brazil’s sales are expected to grow 1% in 2012 to 3.5 million. In addition, LMC Automotive expects 14.1 million new light vehicles to be sold in the U.S. this year. Continue reading ›

Diesels to Help GM, Others Meet Stricter Fuel Economy Rules

Mike Omotoso

Recent news reports have indicated that General Motors has decided to sell a diesel version of the Chevrolet Cruze compact car in the US market. Reportedly, the diesel powertrain will help boost Cruze fuel efficiency to 50 mpg on the highway, based on several wire service reports. In June, Chevrolet sold nearly 25,000 new Cruze compacts with conventional gasoline powertrains, and it was one of the best-selling models in the US market.

GM to Offer Clean Diesel Powertrain

We know that General Motors’ diesel engine will use a common-rail direct-injection system, and it will be a clean diesel. In fact, all diesel passenger cars sold in the United States must be clean diesel, and ultra-low sulfur diesel has been sold across the country since late 2006. As news reports suggest, it will be two or three years before a diesel version of the Cruze can be sold here because it has to be re-engineered to meet US emissions standards. Continue reading ›

Clean Diesel Engines—A Technology that Needs its Image Burnished

Christopher Malott

Diesel-powered passenger vehicles have been in production since the early 1930s. Diesel powertrains, which are internal combustion engines (ICEs) that burn diesel fuel, have been options in passenger vehicles in Europe for decades, and account for nearly 50% of new-vehicle sales in that region. However, it continues to be a struggle for diesel technology to gain the same level of penetration in the United States. In recent history, much improvement has been made to both diesel engines and the fuel used to power them, resulting in reduced emissions as well as less odor, engine noise, and visible vehicle exhaust. Yet, the acceptance of clean diesel technology continues to be slow in the United States not only due to concerns about cost and perceived fuel availability, but also from the lingering perception that diesel is ‘dirty.’

It’s been determined that clean diesel engines are the second-least considered powertrain among four major alternative powertrain choices—including hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric, and battery electric vehicles—among consumers approaching the new-vehicle market. Less than one-third of new-vehicle intenders (31%) cite that they “definitely will” or “probably will” consider this technology, based on data from our 2011 U.S. Green Automotive Study. The primary benefit cited most often by clean diesel engine considerers in the study is the lower fuel costs this technology can provide through improved fuel economy. Continue reading ›

Demand for 4-Cylinder Engines in Cars, Large Pickups Rises

Mike Omotoso

Through most of April, more than one-third of Ford F-150 vehicles sold were equipped with a more fuel-efficient powertrain, a Ford marketing official told Automotive News. In addition, Ford reported that 40% of its latest large pickup truck orders included the EcoBoost 3.5-liter V-6 engine. Demand for the smaller, more fuel-efficient powertrains has surpassed the company’s forecasts, in part due to higher fuel prices.

In addition, we also expect other OEMs to offer more efficient engines in their cars and some trucks. It won’t be just in response to Ford, but mainly due to the 2016 CAFE requirement of 35.5 miles per gallon (mpg) fleet average.

General Motors unveiled the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu at the Shanghai Auto Show in mid April without a V-6 engine option. The current Malibu has a standard 4-cylinder engine and offers a V-6 option, but the next-generation Malibu will follow the example of the Hyundai Sonata and only be equipped with a 4-cylinder engine (plus a hybrid) for improved fuel economy. In addition, GM effectively replaced the Northstar V-8 engine in its Cadillac cars with a direct-injection, 3.6-liter V-6 engine. Continue reading ›

Economic Factors Shape Consumer Attitudes on Green Vehicles

Christopher Malott

When asked to consider a hybrid electric (HEV), plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV), clean diesel engine or battery electric vehicle (BEV) for their next new-vehicle purchase, a large proportion of consumers express interest in at least one of these options.

While vehicle price remains a primary concern impeding consideration of these powertrains, the ability to save money on fuel costs through improved economy is the most often cited benefit of ownership, according to the  J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Green Automotive Study.SM

However, even though the financial benefits relating to fueling are recognized by these consumers, oftentimes the upfront price premium of an alternative powertrain option is too high to overcome. Price, in fact, may become a more prominent concern for consumers considering HEVs and clean diesel engines, since tax credits from the Energy Policy Act of 2005 were phased out at the end of 2010. Continue reading ›

Near-Term Green Vehicle Growth Remains Limited

Growth of alternative powertrain vehicle sales in the near future will be limited by consumer concerns about costs as well as functionality, according to our new J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Green Automotive Study.SM In fact, our Automotive Forecasting division projects that the share of hybrid and electric vehicles will remain below 10% of the US market through 2016.

Mike VanNieuwkuyk

Alternative powertrains face an array of challenges as automakers attempt to gain widespread acceptance of these vehicles in the market. It is the financial issues that most often resonate with consumers, whether it is the higher price of the vehicle itself, the cost to fuel or recharge the vehicle, or the fear of higher maintenance costs. The bottom line is that most consumers want to be “green,” but not if there is a significant personal cost to them.

In addition, despite a rapid increase in the number of alternative powertrain vehicle models expected to reach the market during the next few years, automakers will be competing for a relatively small number of consumers who are willing to drive green. By the end of 2016, J.D. Power expects there to be 159 hybrid and electric vehicle models available for purchase in the US market. This is a significant increase from the 31 hybrid and electric models that were available to buyers in 2009. Continue reading ›

Production-Ready “Green” Vehicles Debut at Los Angeles Auto Show

It was “Electric Avenue” during the press preview days (Nov. 17-18) at this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show (LAAS) at the city’s Convention Center, which is open to the public through Sunday, November 28. Fuel efficiency, low emissions and range anxiety were buzz words as automakers introduced 50 new models and concepts and displayed . . . Continue Reading Production-Ready “Green” Vehicles Debut at Los Angeles Auto Show