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UK: Ricardo report predicts vastly expanded US light duty diesel market

By just-auto.com editorial team | 30 June 2005

UK-based engineering consultancy Ricardo is forecasting a big increase in the US light duty diesel market.

The 2005 Ricardo diesel report predicts a significant rise in US light duty diesel market penetration over the coming decade. Sales in the light duty vehicle segment (up to 8,500 pounds gross vehicle weight) are projected to grow from a mere 43,000 units in 2004, to exceed 1 million units annually by 2012, rising to 1.5 million by 2015

The forecast is part of the annual review of selected international light duty diesel markets published by Ricardo.

While diesel already enjoys a market penetration of over 56% in the US premium light truck sector (between 3/4 and 1 ton) cost remains a major issue for passenger cars, light trucks and SUVs, Ricardo says.

Ricardo notes that efforts are underway to reduce engine-out emissions as well as in the development of more effective aftertreatment devices. With the implementation timing of practical and cost-effective solutions likely to be one of the principal drivers for further diesel penetration, Ricardo predicts that a rapid increase in diesel sales will follow as such devices become both readily available and affordable to the consumer from 2009 onwards.

Elsewhere, the global growth of light duty diesel sales continues apace, with 2004 posting the largest volume increase for a decade. The sales ratio of diesel to gasoline vehicles for the larger manufacturers continues to grow, led by Volkswagen which now reports over 60% of its car sales as diesels.

In Western Europe, diesel car sales in 2004 continued to flourish in all of the major national markets, with overall penetration reaching a record level of over 48%.