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September 25, 2019   |   Diesel Technology Forum

Policy Insider

Manufacturing Progress: 1 Million Heavy-Duty Diesel Engines Are Good for the Environment and Economy

Over 1 million heavy-duty diesel engines rolled off U.S. assembly lines in 2018. That’s up by 13 percent or an additional 118,000 engines from the previous year. This is good news for U.S. economic fundamentals, the environment and job security.

The Economy Runs on Heavy-Duty Diesel Engines
Diesel is the technology of work and is responsible for underpinning a significant portion of the U.S. economy. From trucks, trains, agricultural and construction equipment to marine vessels, these vehicles and equipment rely on diesel power. No other fuel or technology delivers like diesel, the most efficient means to transfer stored energy potential into work. 

In 2018, 16 production facilities in 13 states were responsible for manufacturing over 1 million heavy-duty diesel engines, up by 13 percent over 2017. North Carolina takes the top spot for the production of heavy-duty diesel engines, where more than one-in-three heavy duty diesel engines were produced in facilities in Rocky Mount.

Engine Production

Heavy-duty diesel engine production is up because the economy is up. Heavy-duty engines used in agriculture, forestry and fishing, mining and construction, and transportation and logistics sectors of the economy rely predominantly on diesel engines that were largely responsible for delivering $4 trillion in economic activity in the first quarter of 2019, comprising 12 percent of all private sector industrial activity; up 6 percent from Q1 2018. Demand for diesel power increases as businesses that rely on heavy-duty diesel engines expand, not just in the United States but the entire global economy.

Diesel-Dependent Economy Sector

2019 Q1

($ Billions)







Transportation & Logistics


Share of Private Sector Industrial Activity


SOURCE: Bureau of Economic Analysis, GDP by Industry

New Heavy-Duty Diesel Engines Make the Environment Better 

Businesses that invest in the new generation of diesel technology rolling off assembly lines today to replace existing units or to expand operations contribute significantly to a cleaner environment. A case in point is one of the most visible applications of heavy-duty diesel engines – trucking. Over 14 million commercial trucks are on the road in the U.S. and 75 percent are powered by diesel engines. Diesel makes up 97 percent of the fleet of larger Class 8 tractor-trailer style trucks.

Communities across the country are the primary beneficiaries of new technology, near-zero emission diesel engines. According to research commissioned by the Diesel Technology Forum, replacing a single 2000 model year Class 8 truck with a new diesel model can eliminate over 2 tons of smog-forming compounds annually. And, the new technology is more fuel efficient that translates into hundreds of gallons of fuel savings annually that translates to eliminating almost 10 tons of C02 emissions every year.

Between 2010 and 2030, these new-generation more efficient diesel trucks are anticipated to eliminate 1.3 billion tons of C02 emissions, equivalent to talking 276 million cars off the road or the same amount of energy used in 155 million homes. These are the outcomes of American manufacturing, thanks to advanced technology diesel engines rolling off assembly lines in the U.S.

New technology diesel engine benefits are not limited to commercial trucks. Diesel engines are the technology of choice for marine vessels, agricultural and construction equipment and locomotives. For example, it would take 23 of today’s near-zero emissions diesel technology units to generate the same emissions as a single backhoe from the 2000-era.  

23 backhoes infographic 

Heavy-Duty Engine Servicing and Repair Provides Well-Paying Jobs

Beyond manufacturing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 265,000 Americans repair diesel engines and the vehicles and equipment they power paying wages and salaries above the national average. And the job prospects are good as the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects jobs in this sector to expand 5 percent each year. This compares to just 1 percent job growth prospects for other automotive repair specialists. As the economy expands and businesses rely on heavy-duty diesel engines, more experienced and qualified technicians will be required to keep these vehicles and equipment working for the economy and reducing emissions to the benefit of us all. 

Many of the leaders in clean diesel engines are sponsoring technical training programs to guarantee a skilled future workforce. Volvo Trucks is sponsoring technical training programs in Florida, Ohio and Texas.  Global diesel engine leader Cummins has teamed up with the Universal Technical Institute, a leading vocation training institute, to develop a diesel engine mechanic program. Detroit Diesel also offers technical training programs, as do AGCO, Caterpillar, CNH Industrial, Isuzu, John DeereMTU, and Yanmar.

Even as alternative fuels and emerging technologies make headlines, U.S. production of diesel engines expand to meet the needs of a growing economy.  These engines generate tons of environmental benefits when replacing older generations and are a key technology to deliver sustainability goals and provide good well paying jobs across the country.

Global Economy Demands Efficient and Clean Power Solutions like Diesel

The newest-generation diesel technologies are the growing foundation of the global economy. In the United States, clean diesel engines drive 15 key sectors of the U.S. economy, including agriculture, forestry, mining, construction, logistics, warehousing and other goods movement industries supporting retail and the larger manufacturing sector. Diesel-related jobs total more than 1.25 million, according to the latest data available.

With its unmatched combination of energy density, fuel efficiency, power and performance, the newest generation of clean diesel technology meets the increasing demands of truckers, construction companies and farmers while also delivering lower greenhouse gas emissions and cleaner air for everyone. The more these newest, most-efficient, near-zero emission diesel engines can be put to work, the greater the fuel savings and emission reductions delivered to the communities in which they operate, whether that be from a commercial truck, a farm tractor, a tugboat, or a locomotive.



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Ezra Finkin
Director, Policy

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