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

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Mercedes added the E350 BlueTec sedan to its diesel offerings late last year and it will soon be joined by the larger S350 BlueTec.  The latter will have the distinction of being the only full-sized diesel-powered luxury sedan in the U.S.

17.5% of Mercedes buyers chose a diesel in January and April was the high water mark with 21.1%, the highest take rate we’ve seen at Mercedes since we started tracking comparable model diesel sales.  First quarter sales were 18% and second quarter sales were 18.5%.  Overall, the comparable model take rate for diesels at Mercedes was 18%, compared to 14% for the same period in 2010.

Sales of the 2011 E350 BlueTec sedan relative to the gasoline model fell slightly to 13.5% from Q4 2010.  However, sales of the diesel model increased between the first and second quarters of this year both relative to its gasoline equivalent (14% in Q2 versus 13% in Q1) and in absolute terms (a 33% increase).


At Volkswagen, which continues as the volume leader in diesel sales, January comparable model diesel sales were 30.9%, peaking at 40.5% in May. For the first six months of 2011, 36% of customers chose a diesel compared to the comparable gasoline variant.  In 2010, comparable model sales were also 36%.  Quarter-by-quarter sales rose from 33% in the first quarter to 38.5% in the second quarter.  Volume of sales increased by 42% from the same period last year.

Several Volkswagen models merit special mention as the diesel versions of these cars consistently outsold the petrol variants.  Golf TDI sales were 56% compared to the gasoline version, which greatly surpasses the 41% diesel sales in the first half of 2010.  The volume of diesel sales increased by a remarkable 79% in the comparable six month period last year (from 2,799 to 5,002). If they continue at this pace, sales of the Golf TDI are on track to exceed 10,000 vehicles, almost double last year’s total sales of 5,781. March saw the greatest comparable model sales of 58%.

With both 2011 and 2010 models available this year, the Jetta TDI claimed a market share of 22% over its 2.5L gasoline equivalent (we did not compare with 2.0L Jetta sales). That’s up slightly from 21.6% for the first two quarters of 2010. There was also a 56% increase in the volume of sales from the first six months of last year.  First quarter sales were 19%; for the second quarter, that number increased to 25%.

For the Jetta SportWagen TDI, sales were 12,333 versus 2,921 for the petrol version. That’s 81% diesel, down from 85% in the first half of 2010.  There was also a 19.5% increase in the volume of sales for the diesel SportWagen from the first six months last year and sales are on track to surpass last year’s yearly total of 21,201.

The 2010 Touareg TDI claimed a 45% market share in the first half of 2011, rising slightly to 46% so far this year (that’s including 2011 Touaregs as well as a few 2010 models, which were still available in the first half this year). In the first quarter, diesel sales for the 2011 and 2010 Touareg TDI models were 41% of comparable model sales, jumping to 50% in the second quarter.  Volume of sales increased by 47% compared to the same period last year.


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