Diesel Economics: Sales Up 39% for First Half of 2011

By Ben Rossi on 29 July 2011
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An in-depth analysis of new car sales data by The Diesel Driver shows that sales of diesel-powered automobiles in the U.S. are up by 39% compared to the first half of 2010. In addition, buyers continue to choose diesel models over gasoline equivalents at the same rate as last year.

The Diesel Driver analyzed new-car sales data for the first six months of 2011 from Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen, the four companies that offer diesel-powered passenger vehicles in the U.S. (see the detailed chart at the bottom of page three). While diesel’s total market share has remained steady, sales are up compared to the first two quarters of 2010, and are on track to exceed the total 2010 diesel sales. The data cover the first two quarters of 2011 (January through June). Total diesel sales for the period were 47,873 vehicles.

The past six months saw several diesel-powered cars consistently outsell their gasoline equivalents, including the Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI (81% diesel), Volkswagen Golf TDI (56%), and the Audi A3 TDI (54%).  Strikingly, BMW 335d sales are neck and neck with the gasoline version this year, with the diesel 335 claiming a significantly larger market share than during the first half of 2010.

The overall diesel take rate remained steady in the first half of 2011.  The first two quarters of 2010 saw a 32% market share for diesel among the four car manufacturers.  In the first six months of 2011, that number remained 32%.  Diesel sales fell between the beginning and end of this period; in January, diesel sales were 32%, falling to 28% by June. However, at 47,873, total diesel sales for this year so far exceed those for the first two quarters of 2010 by 39%. If sales continue at this pace, the figure could be 108,000 or higher, exceeding the 2010 total of 77,877.

Audi once again led in the percentage of buyers who chose diesel (48%), up from 45% in the first two quarters of 2010. In total sales, Volkswagen was the clear standout with 33,259 diesel cars sold. That’s a 42% percent increase from the same period last year. Mercedes-Benz took second place with 5,953 sales (ousting BMW, which claimed the runner-up spot in the same period last year), although it still came in last place in comparable model sales with 18%.  With 4,805 units sold, BMW moved down to third place. Audi came in fourth with 3,856 sales.

Several completely redesigned models that were introduced in 2010 continued into 2011 with strong sales.  These include the Volkswagen Touareg TDI and the Jetta TDI. Production of the BMW 335d will end in August, leaving one BMW diesel model, the X5 xDrive35d, available.  The all-new 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI should be arriving at dealerships this fall, and Mercedes-Benz’s 2012 S350 BlueTec, the first diesel-powered S-class in the U.S. market since the 1996 model year, should be available later this summer.

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

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