Diesel Economics: U.S. Sales Double in 2010

By Jonathan Spira on 25 February 2011
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An in-depth analysis of new car sales data by The Diesel Driver shows that monthly diesel sales doubled in 2010 and that buyers showed increasingly strong preference for diesel-powered cars compared to the gasoline-powered equivalent models.

The Diesel Driver analyzed 2010 new-car sales data provided by Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen, the four car makers that offer diesel-powered vehicles in the U.S. (see the detailed chart at the bottom of page two).  The data cover January through December. Monthly sales of diesel-powered automobiles essentially doubled: 3855 diesels were sold in January and this increased to 7604 in December.   Total sales for the year were 77,877.

The fourth quarter saw several diesel-powered cars outsell their gasoline equivalents including the Audi A3 TDI, the Volkswagen Golf TDI, the Jetta Sportwagen TDI, and the 2010 Touareg TDI.  In the case of the Jetta Sportwagen, buyers chose diesel over gasoline in a ratio of almost five to one.

For the fourth quarter, Audi once again led in the percentage of buyers who chose diesel (48%) versus the comparable gasoline-powered model.  In total sales, Volkswagen, with 13,966 diesels sold, remained the market leader.  Indeed, Volkswagen sold almost twice as many diesels as all of the other car makers combined.  BMW was second in overall sales volume with 3375 diesels although it was third in comparable model sales with 31%.  Mercedes-Benz moved into third place in sales volume with 2873 units although it remained in fourth place for comparable model sales with 16%.

For 2010, Audi closed out the year with comparable model sales of 48%, the top position.  Volkswagen, with diesel sales of 51,769, maintained its position as market leader.  With 11,727 sales, BMW remained number two although the Bavarian automaker came in third in comparable model sales with 31%.  Mercedes-Benz, with 7440 diesels for the year, took over third place from Audi, which moved into the fourth position with 6941 units sold.

Several completely redesigned models were introduced in 2010 including the Volkswagen Jetta TDI and the Touareg TDI.  BMW started selling a redesigned X5 xDrive35d in 2010 as well.

Mercedes-Benz introduced the only entirely new diesel model offered for sale in 2010, the E-Class BlueTec sedan.  The E-Class has the distinction of being the only mid-sized diesel luxury sedan currently available in the U.S. (there were no 2010 or 2009 E-Class BlueTec models).  Sales of the E-Class diesel were off to a strong start. First available in Q4, one out of five buyers of the Mercedes chose the diesel compared to the equivalent gasoline model.

Click here to continue to Page 2 – Manufacturer-Specific Trends and Data

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