J.D. Power Survey: Diesels and Hybrids to Increase Market Share
Audi may be right on target with their plans to import diesels . A study by J.D Power (via the Detroit News ) shows diesels and gas-electric hybrids will have 17 percent of the U.S. market by 2015. Surprisingly, Power thinks diesels will outsell hybrids because of the higher cost of admission to the hybrid club; they predict by 2015 hybrids will increase to seven percent of the market (from the current 2.2 percent) while diesel vehicles will make up ten percent. Sales of four-cylinder gas engines are also expected to rise sharply as the automakers scramble to meet the new 35mpg CAFE standard. They don't think hydrogen fuel cells and pure electric cars will have much impact as they won't be available in any significant numbers during the years covered by the study. But what about E85? The proportion of vehicles available that can run on corn squeezin's will nearly double but few of them will be using it because it still won't be available in most places. That won't matter to the manufacturers, though, if the new CAFE standards have the ethanol loophole the current one does.
If things go well, and current trends continue (i.e. the move from massive pickups and SUVs for one fat-butt to commute in, to small cars), then perhaps this E85 CAFE loophole can go away. It's too much to expect the politicians in Washington to see sense and do away with it right now. (That'll only work if someone can figure out how to wave more dollars in their face than the mega ag companies and ethanol companies). In the meanwhile, with diesel prices at over $4 per gallon and gas just under $3.40 a gallon locally, along with a higher-than-you-might-think price premium for the upcoming clean diesel technology in cars, I'm going to predict that GASOLINE HYBRIDS will be 10% of the market and DIESELS will be less than 2% of the market by 2015. Unless, of course, some extremely smart company goes ahead and starts converting offal, sewage and garbage into diesel fuel/heating oil, so the supply can increase without being connected to oil imports (thus hopefully bringing the price in line with gasoline). See www.changingworldtech.com - they're looking for partners.
Oh happy day for diesel-ophiles like me. I pray that the current high price of diesel fuel doesn't piss on the oil burner parade.
Anyone with an opinion on biofuels and hasn't done so already: Email your Senators. Email your Representative.
Saw the Audi TDI's on the ALS race over the weekend. Watching them clearly outrun the other cars on the straight was enough to warm a diesel lovers heart.