German Auto Makers To Promote Clean Diesel Models For North American Buyers


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By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

DETROIT, January 9, 2012.; In a press conference at the North American International Auto Show that opened its doors to the media this morning, the VDA, the German car manufacturers association, gave some insight into the diesel market in the U.S. In its study published last December, the Deutsche Bank Research concluded that to many people driving long distances in the US, clean diesel is the ideal fuel. The average annual mileage per car is around 10,000 miles per year, which beat the German average of some 7,500 miles. Not only in Western Europe, diesel cars are highly popular (half of all new cars registered there are diesels), also The Auto Channel is much in favor of diesel engines and we have often said we hoped manufactures would offer more diesel variants. We may be getting on the way…

Since offering clean diesel fuel in all 50 states, the popularity has been growing. In 2009 the VW Jetta TDI and in 2010 the Audi A3 TDI won the ‘Green Car of the Year’ awards, while the BMW 335d, Golf TDI and Passat TDI were among the top five finalist. Together with other diesel models from BMW (X5 35xDvive), Mercedes-Benz (E-and ML-Class) and Audi (Q7 TDI) and VW (Touareg 3.0 TDI), they generated 34 per cent higher sales of diesel passenger cars in 2011. Market share of diesel cars was on the rise since 2008, while that of light trucks has been climbing since 2009: in 2011, sales of diesel light trucks rose by almost 25 per cent.

In the meantime, the US administration has also recognized the CO2-emissions of diesel engines and last summer, the Secretary of Transportation emphasized that the US could save 1.4 million barrels of oil each day if one third of all cars were equipped with diesel engines. Last year in the US, 33.5 per cent of new registered diesel-powered light vehicles bear a German badge, up from 28.7 per cent in 2010. There has been a strong rise of US sales of vehicles produced in the US, Canada and Mexico (NAFTA) as well as of imports from Europe

The German manufactures have a strategy of increasing both exports from Germany, as well as increasing local assembly in the US. This has resulted in a rise of sales of locally built models, as well as of imports from Europe.

The VDA expects that 2012 will be another successful year for the German manufacturers in the US and under those conditions they plan to expand capacity, launch new models onto the market and aim to increase market share again in 2012. They will also advertise more of the advantages of diesels. VDA president Matthias Wissmann was reluctant in providing goals for 2012, but said there is “a good chance the growth will be a little bit more than the growth of the US market. 2012 will mark the 7ths year of growth of diesel models in the US.”

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