Put your ear to the ground. You’re probably going to hear the gravelly sound of a diesel engine coming… at least figuratively.
That might be true, but it might not. First, the engines are much quieter than they used to be so you wouldn’t exactly hear them coming. Second, registration is increasing much faster for diesels than cars and SUVs overall. According to automotive data and marketing firm R.L. Polk and Co., diesel registration rose 24 percent in the U.S. between 2010 and 2012 compared to a 2.75 percent overall increase at the same time.
Despite that, diesel powered vehicles (excluding trucks and vans used commercially) make up less than three percent of the overall market. That figure will change in the coming years for a variety of reasons, and automakers are introducing products in anticipation.
Yesterday, Mercedes-Benz released the GLK 250 BlueTEC, which is a diesel version of the GLK small SUV. The German luxury brand has already sold the same car north of the border for years, but buyers are more receptive to the products there. Similarly, Chevrolet will soon offer a diesel version of its Cruze compact sedan, aiming to poach customers from the Volkswagen Jetta TDI. Mazda will also offer a diesel version of the all-new Mazda6.
SEE ALSO: Upcoming Diesel Cars
Volkswagen has long been a lonely bastion for U.S. diesel buyers by offering a variety of turbocharged oil burners. But BMW is jumping in with its 328d and Audi is launching its own salvo by offering four models with its 3.0-liter turbodiesel: the A8, A7, A6 and Q5 SUV.
The U.S. market for diesel cars is still small, but that’s due in part to the fact that they generally cost thousands more then their gas siblings. Diesel also costs about 10 cents more per gallon.
Automakers reaching for the government’s lofty 54.5 mpg CAFE requirements by 2025 will look favorably on diesels for their efficiency, which helps explain the broad product push. Apart from that, Euro 6 emissions standards will come into play in September, 2014, essentially leveling current disparities blocking most European diesels from the U.S.