US Diesel Fleet Up by 280,000 in 2016

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There were about 8 million diesel-powered passenger vehicles on U.S. roads at the end of 2016, and more than 280,000 of those were new registrations during the year. The total includes cars, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), full-size pickups and vans. Commercial vehicles are not included.

The data were reported Monday by the Diesel Technology Forum (DTF), an industry association representing diesel technology suppliers in the areas of advanced engines, vehicles and equipment; cleaner diesel fuel; and emissions-control systems. The DTF counts new registrations, which include new car registrations and re-registrations of old vehicles by new owners. Just over 137,000 new diesel-powered vehicles were sold in the United States in 2016 according to That’s a drop of more than 11% from total sales of about 155,000 in 2015.

According to HybridCars, the top-selling diesel vehicle in 2016 was the Ram pickup from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU), which sold 55,209 diesel vehicles last year. In the prior year, the Ram diesel sold 57,058 units in the United States.

DTF executive director Allen Schaeffer said:

This level of increase in registrations of new diesel cars, SUVs and light pickup trucks in the U.S. in 2016 is impressive particularly when you consider there were 25 percent fewer choices in the market compared to 2015. … The 2016 increase in diesel registrations was due to the expanding popularity and increasing number of choices in the light-duty pickup market. This more than offset the slight decrease in diesel car registrations due to the drop-in number of choices available.

2016 sales might have been higher had Volkswagen not essentially stopped selling diesel-powered VW and Audi vehicles in the United States in late September of 2015 following the company’s emissions-cheating scandal. According to data at HybridCars, VW’s only diesel car in the United States, the Jetta Hybrid, sold just 709 copies last year. In 2014 VW sold more than 77,000 diesel vehicles in the United States. Audi sales fell from 15,795 units of six different models in 2014 to 11,765 in 2015 and just 18 of one model in 2016.

Some highlights from the Diesel Technology Forum report:

  • California led the nation in the number of diesel-powered cars and SUVs last year.
  • Texas leads the nation in the total number of registered diesel pickups.
  • Wyoming (11.3%), Montana (8.6%) and Idaho (7.5%) have the highest percentages of registered diesel vehicles in operation.
  • North Carolina posted the fastest growth in diesel vehicle growth last year, with a growth rate of 9.3%.