A lobby group has welcomed two major announcements from leading global manufacturers for new diesel options in light-duty vehicles at the Detroit show. Ford introduced a new three-litre diesel engine option for the 2018 F-150 pickup truck and GMC revealed a new (Opel) 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine option for its new 2018 GMC Terrain SUV.
"These announcements send a strong message that diesel remains an important option for meeting the future vehicle needs of US drivers," said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. "With light-duty pickup trucks and SUVs accounting for more than 63% of sales in 2016, the addition of new clean diesel options in these dominant sectors will go a long way toward boosting the diesel market share in the US.
"The Ford F-Series has been the best-selling pickup truck for an unprecedented 40 consecutive years. Having a new diesel version of the most popular vehicle in America is a major step forward for diesel's long-term future in the US and will offer pick-up truck customers another fuel-efficient choice.
"The compact SUV market is booming in the US and the new GMC Terrain diesel should be well-received by US drivers," Schaeffer added. "The Terrain has been a major component of GMC's growth in North America and should be extremely popular as the SUV market expands in the coming years."
Schaeffer reckons the F-150 and Terrain diesel options will be "embraced" by consumers along with the top-selling Mazda CX-5 and its highly anticipated Skyactiv-D diesel option coming in 2017, as well as a new diesel engine for Chevrolet's Equinox.
"With these new entries, an efficiency and performance race is emerging in the pick-up truck and crossover market segments, with strong 2016 performances by the Ram 1500 Ecodiesel, GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado already on the books."
He added: "Much has been said about the viability of diesel in passenger cars, trucks and SUVs in the US in the wake of the 'dieselgate' emissions scandal. SUVs and light trucks largely carried the US diesel market in 2016 in addition to smaller numbers of luxury cars and SUV diesel options. While the 'dieselgate' scandal and loss of 13 vehicle choices resulted in a major decline in US vehicle sales in late 2015 and early 2016, cumulatively, 115,337 diesels were sold in the US last year, not including any of the domestic heavy-duty diesel pickup truck sales where diesel has over 10% of the market. Even with fewer vehicle choices for the U.S. market, coupled with delays in government product certifications, 2016 diesel vehicle sales have still regained about 20 percent of the market share formerly held by VW."