The US diesel car market regained momentum in the second half of 2016, according to a lobby group.

Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, said in a statement: "Much has been said and predicted about the viability of diesel in passenger cars, trucks and SUVs in the US in the wake of the [VW Group] 'dieselgate' emissions scandal. Diesel sales started 2016 at their lowest point – 0.43% of all vehicle sales in January, according to Hybrid Cars.com data – and some analysts issued dire projections about diesel's future here.

"However, by the end of 2016 the diesel 'take rate' almost doubled to 0.81% in December. Cumulatively, 115,337 diesels were sold in the US in 2016, and this does not include many of the domestic heavy-duty diesel pickup truck sales where diesel has over 10% of the market share.

"Even with the loss of 13 VW Group of America vehicles from the US market, as well as delays in government product certifications for other manufacturers, 2016 diesel sales have regained about 20% of VW's previous diesel market share.

"It is to be expected that with fewer choices and lower fuel prices, the sales of fuel-efficient clean diesels might decline, but what we're seeing is that consumers have not lost confidence in diesel. 

"SUVs and light trucks largely carried the US diesel market in 2016 in addition to smaller numbers of luxury cars and SUVs diesel options.

"In the last 18 months, our public opinion research has continued to reinforce the idea that Americans continue to keep an open mind about potential clean diesel vehicle purchases – even in the wake of the recent emissions scandal. The 2016 sales trends validate those perceptions.

"We remain optimistic about the momentum for diesels in the coming years. In 2017, we anticipate new product launches to boost the market.

"With tighter fuel efficiency standards coming into play in the US along with growing demand for greener choices, we have no doubt that the new and established diesels will play a major role in the expanding growth of clean diesel technology in the domestic market.

"The new generation of clean diesel passenger vehicles with proven real world fuel efficiency offer about 30% better fuel efficiency than comparable gasoline vehicles. These vehicles are clean with low CO2 emissions, they provide great performance, and they are renewable fuel ready. Because of all this, we are extremely optimistic about the future of diesel passenger vehicles in the US."

New diesel models expected in 2017 include variants of GM's Chevrolet Cruze and Mazda's Skyactiv CX-5.