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January 06, 2017   |   Diesel Technology Forum

Policy Insider

More Americans Chose an Alternative Fueled Vehicle in 2016 and it Wasn’t an All-Electric

With more diesel models for consumers to choose, we see definite potential for monthly diesel sales to continue its already positive growth trend.

The 2016 vehicle sales are in and diesel did well. Despite the VW emissions scandal, sales of diesel jumped considerably since January. More new car buyers are behind the wheel of a diesel than a battery-electric car. With more models to choose from and even more anticipated to hit showroom floors in 2017, we hope the sales trend continues.

In the aftermath of the VW emissions cheating scandal, the Diesel Technology Forum engaged in a periodic opinion survey and message testing project to learn about consumer sentiment towards diesel and diesel passenger vehicles. We learned that while some Americans were aware of the headline grabbing scandal, many were unaware and most believed that the event would not have much weight in the decision-making process for their next vehicle purchase.

And the vehicle sales stats demonstrate that. December was a bright spot for diesel passenger vehicle sales with more than 4,000 vehicles sold in December over November. For the year, just over 115,000 diesels were sold. Over 28,000 more diesels sold than battery-electrics. Among the best selling models in each category – the Tesla Model S for the battery-electrics, and the Ram 1500 for diesel – the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel outsold the Tesla Model S by almost 2-to-one in 2016.


2016 Sales

Tesla Model S


Ram 1500 EcoDiesel



To those who thought that the diesel passenger vehicle market would not last long, 2016 proved them wrong. Diesel sales started the year at a low point – representing just 0.40 percent of all vehicle sales. Month after month, more Americans warmed up to diesel as the segment doubled its share of sales. While diesel sales have not caught up to its high point of over 18,000 models sold in May 2015, December 2016 sales got close, coming in at 13,604.  As we gradually move on from the VW emissions cheating scandal, we hope that 2017 will see monthly sales continuing to trend up for diesel.

In fact, we see some greenshoots already for a success for diesel in the coming year. Several new models were introduced for diesel in 2016 including new Jaguar/Land Rover models, a Cummins-equipped Nissan Titan XD, and the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon. This year we are earnestly awaiting the arrival of new GM models including the popular Chevy Cruze along with its hatchback variant, the Chevy Equinox and the Mazda CX-5. With more models for consumers to choose, we see definite potential for monthly diesel sales to continue its already positive growth trend.

Check out the diesels available today!


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Ezra Finkin
Director, Policy

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