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Diesel is the top selling alternative fuel type

It is the end of the 3rd quarter and automakers are reporting their sales. The numbers are expected to be lower thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are some growth spots to mention, and one peculiarity in the alternative fuels segment.

According to Tyson Jominy, Vice President of automotive data and analytics at JD Power Autos, the growth alternative fuel to the internal combustion engine and gasoline is diesel. “Diesel share of industry retails sales is 3.2%, up from 2.6% last year and fractionally ahead of hybrid,” he said.

Why the increase? Part of it amounts to availability in the marketplace. Just a few years ago, if you wanted a diesel powered automobile you needed a heavy duty pickup truck or one of the dirty Volkswagen diesels. Now, the landscape is different.

All of the major light truck manufacturers offer a diesel in their half-ton pickups. The Wrangler picked up a diesel offering. General Motors is putting a diesel in their large SUVs — plus a splattering of other diesels across the lineup.

They’re good diesels, too. This author has spent time in most of those diesel offerings in the past year and the 3.0-liter I6 in the GM products is one of the best engines currently on sale.

They’re also significantly cleaner than they were in the past, thanks to after treatments and emissions controls. While no, we recognize they aren’t as clean as they need to be, they seem to be heading in the right direction.

What’s surprising about this revelation is how much more a diesel engine costs to put it in a vehicle. The price delta between gas and diesel can range from $2,500 to $4,000. When you factor in the increased price per gallon for diesel and the requirement for after treatment, it’d take a lot of driving to recoup the cost in fuel savings.

But that hasn’t stopped people from buying them. It’ll be interesting to see how this trend continues, especially after automakers like GM and Ford start offering their electric trucks.

Written by Chad Kirchner
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