Auto Service World
News   March 31, 2011   by Auto Service World

Benefits of High Availability and Fuel Efficiency Strengthen Uptake of Diesel Powertrains in North America


The North American (NA) automotive market is poised to witness increased penetration of diesel powertrains in the passenger vehicle segment.
On the other hand, the pick up segment will have marginal growth. Diesel powertrains have an edge over their gasoline counterparts as they offer optimal fuel economy in all driving conditions: city, highway and towing.
Diesel powertrain has experienced significant traction in NA with the models offered by European OEMs. When the diesel powertrain is offered as an option to gasoline, the take up rate has been as high as 30 percent compared to just 10 percent for the hybrid option. This indicates the high level of interest diesel powertrains have garnered and their potential, if offered by OEMs.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Analysis of Diesel Powertrain Outlook and Technology Roadmap in North America, finds that the market was worth 11.9 million in 2009 in terms of unit sales and estimates this to reach 18.5 million in 2016.
If you are interested in a virtual brochure for this study, please send an e-mail to Sarah Saatzer, Corporate Communications, at sarah.saatzer@frost.com, with your full name, company name, job title, telephone number, company e-mail address, company website, city, state and country.
“The new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards aimed at reducing fuel consumption favor alternative powertrains to gasoline, propelling diesel into a position of advantage as an established technology against hybrids and electrics,” says Frost & Sullivan Senior Research Analyst Bharath Kumar Srinivasan. “European OEMs’ diesel expertise is a readily available solution to tackle the fuel economy challenge.”
The premium for a diesel vehicle over its corresponding gasoline version is, in most cases, lower than that for a hybrid vehicle. For instance, cost per mile, which includes factors such as fuel cost, taxes, tax credit, depreciation, insurance and financing, maintenance and repair for a VW Jetta is lower than that of a Toyota Prius, thus ensuring a shorter payback time compared to a hybrid.
Although the market for diesel powertrains in North America has progressed steadily, some aspects have been clouding its landscape. Over the past decade, there has been a preference for hybrid powertrains offered by Toyota and Honda. This trend is unlikely to change significantly in the near future.
While NA has fuel neutral emission standards, its fuel economy targets are low when to compared to Europe. The stringent emission norms concerning nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) have had a negative impact on diesel powertrains and limited market penetration.
“With the incentives offered for developing hybrid and electric technology, diesel is losing a considerable amount of steam,” says Srinivasan. “Going forward, the cost of hybrid and electric technologies will experience a downtrend, dampening prospects for diesel powertrains,” The advantage of ultra-low emissions and higher mileage rev up the attraction quotient for hybrid powertrains.
In this scenario, investment in diesel powertrain for NA OEMs is not an attractive option, primarily due to an increasing presence of hybrids in the short-term and electric vehicles in the long-term. However, NA OEMs are likely to continue with the diesel powertrain offering in the pickup truck segment, where the higher towing capacity and increased mileage justify the additional cost premium.
For European OEMs, the investment in strong hybrids such as full-hybrids can be delayed, as diesel powertrain is a readily available solution. The use of emission reduction technologies, such as diesel particulate filter (DPF), selective catalytic reduction (SCR), lean-NOx trap (LNT) and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), ensure compliance to the emission norms. Advanced diesel technology is a key powertrain technology for European OEMs and the suitability of all existing diesel technologies to Euro6 is a significant advantage to meeting the stricter emission norms from the NOx and PM perspective. Further, European OEMs powertrain electrification is focused more on micro-hybrids, making diesel powertrains significant.

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