Diesel car sales statistics show that diesels are still a mainstay regarding consumer vehicles, and they’re not letting up in commercial waters. Ever since Rudolf Diesel invented the diesel engine in the 1890s, he revolutionized the world of internal combustion engines. His fuel efficiency system meant that engines became capable of tremendous feats, from hauling great cargo to lifting stuff like never before.
Needless to say, we’ve seen what it meant for cars. When it comes to consumer cars, diesels range from hatchbacks to pickup trucks. Whatever your preference may be, we’re going to dive into the key numbers for a diesel driver.
Diesel Car Sales Stats (Editor’s Choice)
- Diesels comprised 32% of alternative fuel vehicles sold in the US in 2021.
- Diesel fuel produces 10% to 15% more energy than gasoline.
- Biomass imports in the US rose by 12% in 2020.
- Diesel engines are up to 35% more economic and cost-effective than gasoline.
- The US consumed 2.9 million barrels of diesel fuel a day in 2020.
- Diesel cars constituted 14% of all vehicle sales in the world in 2019.
- 32.6% of all registered vehicles in the EU in 2020 were diesels.
US Vehicle Sales by Year
Let’s begin by talking a bit about America’s relationship with cars. The whole world knows how much Americans are proud of making, buying, and driving cars. But what are the most important things for you to know about cars sold in the US?
There’s a lot of data about how well vehicles sell in America and the most popular types. However, varying, unrelated information can be mind-boggling. So, we hope that this narrowed-down list helps clarify things for you, especially if you’re interested in how diesels have fared.
1. The auto industry in the United States sold approximately 14.9 million vehicles in 2021.
Car sales trends show that the automotive market has been a roller-coaster since the beginning of the century. After a boom in the early 2000s, the rise stopped in 2008. In the chaos and recession that year, car sales significantly dropped.
As a result, only 10.4 million people decided to buy a new car in 2009. After reaching a peak in 2016 with 17.4 million cars sold, the market experienced another huge downturn in 2020, with only 14.4 million sales.
2. Diesel pickup truck and SUV sales numbers grew by 28% during 2020.
That came as a surprise as overall car sales dropped by more than 14% that year. Regarding alternative fueled vehicle options, diesel engine vehicles held 5 of the top 10 rankings for fastest-growing sales. Moreover, to boost fuel efficiency, carmakers have recently been adding diesel-engine options to more light-duty pickups and SUVs.
3. Diesel held a 28% market share in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Car buying statistics from the Q4 2021 indicate that 36% of alternative fuel vehicles sold during that time were hybrids. Right behind them is the mighty diesel, with a drop from the 37% in the first quarter.
Trailing behind are battery electric vehicles (BEVs) with 27% of purchases. So, in Q4 of 2021, diesels made up 4.6% of all vehicles sold in the US. The most amazing fact here is that the majority of diesel sales are pickup trucks.
4. US diesel vehicle sales by year have been rising in the past three years, reaching 4.6% of all vehicle sales in the US.
In 2018, diesel vehicle sales amounted to 518,020 units, or 2.62% of all sold vehicles in the US that year (17,196,850). The following year, their number dropped to 513,934, but their percentage increased, and they comprised 3% of all US vehicle sales in 2019 (17,009,925).
Despite the disastrous 2020, diesel vehicle sales jumped to 658,974, or 4.5% of the total number of 14,486,915 vehicles sold in America.
Diesel Fuel Facts
Diesel fuel traditionally has a bad rap in the US for being dirty and causing soot. The fact that the US has a diesel tax, which makes it a bit more expensive than gasoline, doesn’t help its popularity either. However, diesel fuel in Europe is cheaper and supposedly cleaner than in the US.
Modern diesel is cleaner, thanks to developing refinement and engine technologies. How are things better or improved with diesel fuel? It’s all in the next few stats below.
5. Diesel fuel holds 10% to 15% more energy than gasoline.
Now that we’re past statistics on diesel car sales in the US, it’s time to delve into the heart of the issue. It’s not just diesel engines that are designed more efficiently. As diesel fuel is more powerful than gasoline, it produces more energy.
The result is simple. An efficient system powered by a more potent fuel means a more powerful vehicle. What’s more, you need fewer pit stops. That makes the range of a diesel-powered vehicle’s tank bigger than the rest.
6. A barrel of crude oil yields almost twice as much gasoline as diesel.
Before we start talking about things like US diesel vehicle sales by year, let’s have another look at how you get diesel in the first place. Out of a 42-gallon barrel of crude oil, US refineries produce 11 to 12 gallons of ultra-low sulfur distillate fuel oil (which is mostly diesel fuel). But that’s not all. The same amount of crude oil also yields 19 to 20 gallons of motor gasoline.
This stat explains why diesel fuel might be considered more valuable. It makes perfect sense as it has more energy than gasoline. In other words, diesel is a stronger fuel of higher quality.
7. US diesel consumption in 2020 was 2.9 million barrels a day.
This includes renewable types of diesel, like biomass fuel. Moreover, 2020 also saw the consumption of 7.7 million barrels of gasoline a day. Both cases are down from the 2019 figure.
Gasoline experienced a steeper drop from 8.9 million barrels a day. Moreover, diesel fuel dropped from only 3.1 million barrels a day in 2019. People were in lockdown, but the same didn’t go for goods.
8. Diesel cars trends show that the transportation sector consumed 44.6 billion gallons of diesel fuel in 2019.
Back when people traveled a lot, the transportation sector was burning over a billion barrels of diesel a year. Those 47.2 billion gallons (1.1 billion barrels) represented 16% of all US petroleum consumption.
From an energy content perspective, that accounted for about 27% of the total energy that the transportation sector consumed. Once again, transport and long hauls are dependent on diesel fuel. It’s becoming cleaner, and there’s no real substitute.
9. Biomass imports in the US rose by 12% in 2020.
Diesel car sales statistics would be irrelevant without paying some special attention to diesel fuel types and alternatives. A key variety is biomass diesel, or biodiesel, which they usually make out of animal fat or plant oils.
As a result of the increase, the US imported 31,000 barrels per day. Almost 60% of this import was renewable diesel, shipped exclusively from Singapore. Furthermore, this is the second year in a row that has seen such an increase.
10. Diesel engine facts show it is up to 35% more economic and cost-effective than gasoline.
Diesel engines were designed so that they combust fuel more efficiently. Moreover, they have more low-end torque than their gasoline counterparts. As a result, they are more powerful and accelerate faster. They also have to comply with emissions standards, the same as any engine.
With engines like that, diesel vehicles usually run 20% to 35% longer than gas cars. In other words, if a gasoline engine gets 30 mpg, its diesel equivalent would get you 36 mpg to 40 mpg. This is a difference that pays off in the long run.
11. Diesel fuel pollution facts show that some diesel varieties contain up to 97% less sulfur.
Diesel fuel’s bad reputation is completely unjustified today as fuel combustion technologies have come a long way. When used in new and existing diesel engines, biodiesel fuels can lower greenhouse gasses and other emissions by 20–80% compared to conventional petroleum diesel. Then there’s biodiesel, a biodegradable fuel made of biomass (e.g., vegetable oils, animal fat).
12. The diesel engine market was worth $212.4 billion in 2021.
Diesel engine facts show that the figure encompasses engines made for every type of vehicle and use. After all, we mentioned that diesel engines’ power makes them the driving force of many industries.
For example, apart from the standard use in transportation (be it commercial or consumer), the statistic includes engines used for:
- industrial and construction equipment
- agriculture equipment
- various marine applications
- electric generators
In total, the prediction is that the market share of diesel engines will show steady growth in the near future.
Diesel Vehicle Statistics by Country and Region
If we haven’t mentioned already, the use and popularity of diesel vehicles vary depending on the country or region. This is especially true in the case of consumer cars. For example, diesels tend to be more popular in European countries and less popular in North America.
But that’s probably too much of a generalization. Many factors contribute to how a certain type of vehicle fares in different markets or among various demographic groups. That’s exactly what the following facts analyze, so make sure you’re following, too.
13. Global diesel car sales stats show that they comprised 14% of all car sales worldwide in 2019.
However, the forecast is that the global figure for diesel vehicles sold globally would drop to 4% in 2030. Unsurprising, considering diesel’s bad reputation.
But there’s an upside to that prediction. If it comes true, it means that diesel manufacturers would make their vehicles even more cost-effective than they are now. In other words, the premium you now need to pay to buy a diesel will disappear. Lower demand means a lower price.
14. Diesel cars available in the US include the Range Rover and the mega-popular Ford F-150.
The Ford F-150 has reigned for decades, but it’s not the only diesel option. This applies to most Ford’s F-series whose engines start from the F-150’s 3.0-liter, 250-horsepower V6, all the way to the 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 that boasts some 1050 lb-ft of torque and 475 hp.
The percentage of diesel cars in the US shows that other common options are the Chevy Silverado 1500, with a 3.0-liter engine producing 277 hp, and the 2500HD and 3500HD with a 6.6-liter turbocharged V8 engine and 445 hp. In addition, there is a four-wheel-drive Range Rover, whose 3.0-liter V6 churns out 255 hp.
15. The ultra-low sulfur diesel, required at US fuel pumps from 2011, doesn’t contain the EU diesel’s lubricity.
(Hot Shot’s Secret)
This sulfur is needed to protect our cars. When discussing European vs. American diesel, we can also add that the EN-590 Diesel in Europe has the specification—Wear Scar Diameter 460-micron, which is not the case in the US.
In fact, the base in the United States is 520-micron in ASTM US D-975. So, certain fuel pumps in the US failed due to the absence of lubricity in ultra-low sulfur fuel. High wear rates bring metal shavings into the fuel system and create wear that damages pump components.
16. The percentage of diesel cars in Europe has plummeted by 20% between 2015 and 2019.
Although Ireland leads in diesel sales with 46% of all vehicles, that’s down from 71% in 2015. Next comes Luxemburg, with a 44% diesel market share in 2019 that dropped from 71% in 2015.
While the drop is milder in countries like Switzerland (28% in 2019, 39% in 2015) and Denmark (27% in 2019, 31% in 2015), it’s 21% in the Netherlands. While 29% of Dutch people chose diesel in 2015, only 8% of them did so in 2019.
17. The diesel car sales decline in the EU was 32.6% in 2020.
In Q1 2019, diesel vehicles registered in the European Union were 33.2% of all vehicle registrations. However, in Q1 2020, this percentage dropped to 29.9%. This was most prominent in Italy (-49.8%), France (-36.6%), Spain (-33.8%) and Germany (-23.0%).
Gasoline car sales were down by 32.2%, from nearly 2 million units in Q1 2019 to 1.3 million in Q1 2020. On the other hand, electric vehicle sales doubled.
18. In 2020, 99.2% of surveyed drivers said that the most reliable diesel car was the BMW 1 series.
A notable mention is the BMW 5 series that got the vote of confidence of 96.7% of surveyed people. However, when we’re talking about the US market, we’d say that a contender for this title is the Ford F-150. Sure, other models in the F-series are fancier and more powerful, but this one is a tried and tested solution for every pickup lover.
19. With 893,553 units, Texas has the highest number of diesel vehicle registrations.
The latest diesel car sales statistics by the state show that Texas is convincingly on top. Right behind the Lone Star State is California with 650,252 registered diesel vehicles. This is a striking difference, considering how California has 10 million more people than Texas. It turns out size does matter after all.
Next on the list is Florida, with 333,593 diesel registrations. In fourth place is the State of Washington, with 259,439 such vehicles. In fifth we have Pennsylvania, with 238,700.
Gas vs. Diesel Cars Fuel Price Comparison
20. With economic recovery, the EIA expects gasoline and diesel prices to keep rising in 2022.
So far, we mentioned some key things that distinguish diesels from cars with gasoline engines. But now, it’s time we put these two together in terms of price. With all their differences, one thing they have in common is that their prices will continue to climb, diesel car sales facts show. After all, no crisis lasts forever.
So, these are the final fuel facts about diesel. In 2020, the price of gasoline fell by 13%, while the diesel price fell by about 8%. Now the economy is on the rise, and so is the demand for fuel.
Specifically, EIA expects gasoline retail prices to be $2.43 per gallon in 2022, and diesel to be $2.74 a gallon in 2022.
Conclusion—What Do These Diesel Car Sales Statistics Mean?
We’ve seen a lot of facts and stats regarding diesel vehicles, their sales, and diesel fuel, and made comparisons based on countries and states. So, what do we make of it?
Many figures show that diesels are on the downturn in consumer vehicles. However, that doesn’t make them a less viable or cost-effective option.
The lower sales numbers aren’t necessarily bad news. In fact, diesels would be the best thing to buy in the future. Even though they cost more upfront, they pay off in the long run.
People Also Ask
What percentage of cars sold are diesel?
Diesel cars made up 14% of all worldwide car sales in 2019. However, the forecast is that their sales will keep going down in the future. This is not an unreasonable prediction, because it has already been dropping for some years, even in diesel-loving regions like Europe.
What is expected to take their place? It will probably be battery electric vehicles. Again, this is no surprise, because diesels have already been giving way to electric vehicles and hybrids. At least that’s the case in developed countries. We’re yet to see how true those predictions will turn out.
Are diesel car sales falling?
Globally, the decline in diesel sales is evident. In the US, it’s quite the opposite. The total number has risen from 513,934 in 2019 to 658,974 sold in 2020.
Moreover, the percentage has increased from 3% to 4.5%, but this is also because the total number of cars and light trucks dropped from 17,009,925 in 2019 to 14,486,915 in 2020.
In 2021, the first quarter saw the sale of 172,151 units or 4.5% of all vehicle sales. In the second quarter, that number was 181,351, which constitutes 4.1% of all vehicles sold.
What country has the highest percentage of diesel passenger cars?
Europe has the highest percentage of diesel vehicles in the world. In other words, diesel cars are driven in European countries more than anywhere else. This will stay the same for the foreseeable future, despite the drop in recent years.
Moreover, France heads the list with 70.5%. Following France are Luxembourg and Lithuania, with 65.6% and 59.8%, respectively. European countries that like diesels the least are the UK with 4.29%, Cyprus with 12.4%, and Switzerland with 27.0%.
Is it worth buying a diesel car in 2021?
It’s no secret that diesel cars are becoming ever less popular. But for consumers, that’s probably good news. Lower demand for a certain type of vehicle makes it available for a lower price. On top of that, manufacturers will do their best to make it a more appealing buy. When you add the cost-effectiveness of diesel cars, you’ll find that buying a diesel in the future would be a no-brainer.
What is the disadvantage of diesel cars?
First, the downward trend in diesel car sales can indicate that servicing a car could be tricky. However, the biggest disadvantage is the higher price. While a diesel car will save you a lot of money in the long run, you need to invest some more upfront. If you drive many miles, this will pay off a lot sooner.
Then, there’s the fact that diesel fuel in the US is more expensive than gasoline, at $3.34 per gallon, while gas costs about $3.23 per gallon.
What percentage of cars in the US are diesel?
As of 2020, the number of vehicles sold in the US that had a diesel engine was 658,974. Diesel car sales statistics reveal that these constitute about 4.5% of the 14,486,915 total vehicles that the US sold that year.
Still, diesel car popularity varies by state. In fact, diesels are by far the most popular in Texas. The Lone Star State has seen a whopping 893,553 diesel vehicle registrations. The second state on the list, California, lags behind with 650,252, despite having 10 million more people.