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Hybrids Gaining on Clean Diesels in Light-Duty

Posted on May 6, 2009
Filed Under General News | Leave a Comment

peterbuilt-hybrid-truckAt an off-site seminar in Detroit coinciding with SAE World Congress and sponsored by the French Embassy Trade Office Chicago-Detroit and French American Automotive Business Assn., Kevin Riddell, J.D. Power & Associates manager-Powertrain Forecasting, tells attendees diesels now are projected to control only 8.7% of the U.S. market by 2015. Hybrid-electric vehicles are predicted to have a nearly identical 8.6% share.

This still represents a big increase for light-duty diesels, which typically have averaged less than 2% of light-duty vehicle sales overall and less than 1% of U.S. car sales. But it also represents a stronger outlook for HEVs than foreseen several years ago and a loss of momentum for oil burners.

Volatile diesel-fuel prices, fears about old consumer prejudices and a flurry of cancelled or postponed engine programs caused by the economic crisis have subdued an invasion of new clean-diesel light vehicles in the U.S. and caused forecasters to go back to the drawing board on their predictions for how popular various alternative powertrains will be in the near future.

Influenced by aggressive plans by Detroit auto makers to introduce light-duty diesels on high-volume fullsize pickup trucks beginning in 2009, J.D. Power released a study in 2006 that predicted U.S. demand for diesel-powered vehicles would nearly triple during the next 10 years, from 3.2% in 2005 to more than 10% by 2015.

Some supplier projections were even more ambitious, forecasting a 10% market share by 2010 and 15% by 2015.

Meanwhile, HEVs were predicted to have only a 4.9% share of the U.S. market by 2013, with only marginal growth in following years.

But public opinion, investment dollars, and state and federal legislation in the U.S. consistently have shifted in favor of HEVs and electric cars, even while diesel proponents point out that plug-ins, for instance, are not zero-emission vehicles if they are recharged with electricity from coal-fired power plants.

SOURCE: Fleet Owner

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