Stuff with a Motor

Diesels to Outsell Hybrids in the US Within 5 Years

Oh, how I love when the market research and resulting SWAGs of reputable people or organizations backup claims I’ve fabricated out of thin air!  In this case, it appears that two such organizations – UBS and Ricardo – are projecting that diesels will outsell hybrids (gasoline/electric) in the US by 2012.  Their report (download the full UBS report in PDF form here), according to AutoBlog, states that 2.7M hybrid and diesel cars will be sold in the US in 2012 with 1.5M of those units being diesel consuming beasts.

To be fair, I never made that exact claim.  I have repeatedly stated, though, that hybrids are reasonable solutions made way more reasonable when using diesel powerplants instead of gasoline ones.  As it turns out, the report says exactly that.  According to the blog post:

More likely is a scenario in which fuel efficiency and emissions requirements reach a point where diesel-hybrids become a necessity. As batteries improve and Series Hybrids like the Chevy Volt become a reality, diesels will be the likely choice as range extenders.”

The full report also makes a convincing argument that economically, it makes more sense for auto companies to invest in diesel.  Simply put, diesel engines cost much less to produce and maintain than hybrids.  Add that to the fact that the technology is already well understood and it’s benefits – both ecological and economic – are better in most cases than gasoline/electric hybrids, it’s really a no-brainer.

The AutoBlog post wraps it up pretty succinctly:

The report concludes that the added complexity of hybrid systems with their batteries, electric motors and internal combustion engines won’t be able to overcome the cost advantage of a modern diesel engine, even with the expensive exhaust treatment systems needed to make diesels meet our new stricter emissions requirements.”

The UBS report with it’s focus on investment conclusions has a pretty complete description of the technologies, markets and economics of the alternatives.  Definitely worth a browse if you’re interested in this stuff.

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