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Clean Diesel to Hit 12% of Light-Duty Vehicles Sales by 2018

Rising fuel prices and stronger fuel economy regulations will stimulate demand for clean diesel vehicles, pushing sales from 9.1 million in 2012 to 12.1 million annually by 2018, a report from Pike Research said.

The Light Duty and Medium Duty Clean Diesel Vehicles: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts report estimates clean diesels will represent 12.4 percent of global LDV sales by the end of that period.

Both the European Union and North America have implemented stringent light duty vehicle emissions regulations covering diesel vehicles and diesel fuels. Regulators also have adopted tougher emissions standards for medium-duty diesel vehicles.

These regulations have led to the introduction of clean diesel vehicles, which meet EPA and Euro-5 standards for nitrogen oxides or particulate matter emissions. The EU-5 standards reduce NOx levels by more than 50 percent and PM levels by around 96 percent from the standards in effect in 1992, Pike Research said.

Diesel vehicles that meet US and EU standards typically get 20 percent to 40 percent better fuel economy than a comparable gasoline-powered vehicle. This has driven the diesel vehicle’s popularity in Europe, where they have accounted for around 50 percent of LDV sales over the past several years.

North America has been a weak market for diesel LDVs for the past 20 years, largely due to low gasoline prices in the US, which has kept drivers from buying more fuel efficient vehicles of any type. Unlike much of the rest of the world, diesel prices are typically slightly higher than gasoline prices in the United States. It’s also challenging for diesel vehicles to meet US-mandated NOx levels for LDVs.

The overall LDV market in the US grew by just 10 percent and hybrid vehicles sales dipped slightly in 2011 over the previous year, Pike Research said. But from 2012 to 2018, North American clean diesel will experience a cumulative growth rate of 22 percent, reaching annual sales of just under 1 million LDVs, Pike Research said.

The medium and heavy duty vehicle market is dominated by diesel fuel, Pike Research said. However, diesel will see its market share erode slightly in North America, Europe and Japan as hybrid, plug-in and natural gas vehicles begin to see more demand. In North America, clean diesel will drop from close to 99 percent market share to 93 percent.

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