Diesel and hybrid vehicle registrations surge

Diesel car and SUV registrations jumped 24 percent over the last three years, despite a weak economy, the Diesel Technology Forum said this week.

Registrations for hybrid cars and sports utility vehicles also soared between 2010 and 2012, jumping 34 percent, the organization said.

The nonprofit diesel advocacy group used registration information compiled by R.L. Polk and Company to illustrate the growth in adoption of clean diesel vehicles.

Modern diesel engines are sometimes referred to as clean diesel because they run on low-sulfur fuel and are designed to emit fewer particles and greenhouse gasses than most gasoline engines. Historically, diesel engines have been targeted for hefty emissions, but recent regulations inspired changes that made the engines cleaner burning.

U.S. diesel car and sports utility vehicle registrations jumped from 640,779 in 2010 to 796,794 in 2012, while registrations for hybrid cars and SUVs jumped from 1.7 million to 2.3 million during the same period, according to the data.

Long Haul: Natural gas faces a long road to overtake diesel

Texas had the highest number of diesel passenger vehicles in 2012, at 775,395. The Lone Star State also has 121,944 registered hybrids. California had the second largest amount of diesel passenger vehicles, with 572,303, and the most hybrids, with 548,199.

“This new data of total national vehicle registrations coincides with what we’ve been seeing in the monthly auto sales – clean diesel and hybrid cars are showing consistent and impressive growth patterns in the U.S.,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. “This consistent growth in clean diesel registrations in the last three years is particularly noteworthy since it has occurred during an economic recession, the availability of an extremely large number of fuel efficient vehicles, which was topped off by some of the highest diesel fuel prices in U.S. history. Even in the face of these significant challenges, diesel buyers are seeing the big picture and long-term value by investing in record numbers of clean diesel cars and SUVs.”

The state with the largest growth in diesel passenger vehicles was Maine, with a 13 percent increase between 2010 and 2012.

Public image: Biodiesel makers join ‘fight’ for diesel over natural gas

Other states with more than 10 percent growth during that period were Pennsylvania and Montana.

Southern states showed the largest growth in hybrid car and SUV registrations, with South Carolina leading because of a 50 percent jump between 2010 and 2012, followed by Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Delaware and then Texas.

Texas had a 39 percent jump in hybrid car and SUV registrations.

The Diesel Technology Forum is backed by BP and several engine manufacturers and automakers, including General Motors, Chrysler, Ford, Mazda, Volvo and Volkswagen.