Strong diesel pickup sales in 2016 offset drop in diesel car sales

Updated Jun 9, 2017
The 2017 Titan XD Standard Cab features a Cummins 5.0-liter turbo diesel engine.The 2017 Titan XD Standard Cab features a Cummins 5.0-liter turbo diesel engine.

Bad press or not, buyers in the U.S. still want diesel-equipped vehicles, particularly pickup trucks.

The U.S. added more than 280,00 new clean diesel passenger vehicles across the country last year, with Texas, California and Florida having the highest numbers of diesel vehicles, according to a Diesel Technology Forum analysis of the latest Vehicles in Operation (VIO) data compiled by IHS Automotive.

“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,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum.

“It demonstrates the American consumer’s confidence in clean diesel vehicles and what they have to offer – the combination of a proven technology with high fuel efficiency, great driving range and no sacrifices in vehicle capabilities or performance.”

Texas continued to be number one in the nation in total number of registered diesel vehicles ahead of California, Florida, Washington and Pennsylvania (see below). (To see where your state ranks go to:

Total All Diesel Vehicles 2016
(Cars/SUVS/Light Pickup Trucks/Vans)

1) Texas
2) California
3) Florida
4) Washington
5) Pennsylvania
6) North Carolina
7) Colorado
8) Oregon
9) Georgia
10) Illinois

“The 2016 increase in diesel registrations was due to the expanding popularity and increasing number of choices in the light duty pickup market,” Schaeffer said. “This more than offset the slight decrease in diesel car registrations due to the drop-in number of choices available. Solid performances from both new and existing SUV and luxury sedans continue to demonstrate the utility of diesel engines in these segments.”

Three Northeastern states had the highest percentage of new diesel car and SUV registrations in 2016 led by Vermont (+35%), Maine (+29%) and New Hampshire (+12%).

Fastest Growth Diesel Cars & SUVS 2015-16

State % Increase


1) Vermont + 35.6%
2) Maine + 29.3%
3) New Hampshire + 12.1%
4) Michigan + 10.4%
5) District of Columbia +   8.5%
6) Wisconsin +   8.2%
7) Oregon +   7.8%
8) Hawaii +   7.1%
9) Montana +   6.7%
10) Washington +   6.3%

(Diesel Technology Forum analysis based on IHS Automotive 2016 vehicles in operation data, December 2016)

New Diesels Coming to U.S. Provide Optimism for 2017 & 2018 Growth

“We’re extremely optimistic about the U.S. diesel market this year and 2018 because of the introduction of new diesels like the 52 mpg (highway) Chevy Cruze Diesel, the Ford F-150 diesel pickup, along with the Mazda CX-5 SKYACTIV-D SUV diesel and the Chevy Equinox diesel.  All of these new diesels will complement existing strongholds or fill voids in the marketplace for affordable, proven and fuel-efficient technologies,” Schaeffer said.

The analysis is based on 2016 data of vehicles in operation (VIO) that were compiled by IHS Automotive in all 50 states and the District of Columbia through December 31, 2016.  The analysis reviewed VIO data for passenger vehicles defined as cars, SUVS, light pickup trucks, heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans.  The Diesel Technology Forum used the VIO data to calculate the top states in registrations and the percentages of diesel and hybrid registrations in each state.  The analysis also compared 2016 to 2015 data.

8 Million Diesel Passenger Vehicles Now in the U.S.

The number of diesel car, SUV, full-size pickup trucks and vans in operation reached 8 million in 2016 – an increase of 280,000 over 2015.  Schaeffer also noted that the data showed that diesel passenger vehicles continued to outnumber hybrid vehicles in all states except California, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.


  • Eastern states showed the fastest growth in diesel light pickup registrations, led by the District of Columbia (+20%), New Jersey (+17%) and New York (+15%).  In fact, eight of the Top 10 fastest growth states were in the East.
  • Three Northeastern states had the highest percentage of new diesel car and SUV registrations in 2016 led by Vermont (+35%), Maine (+29%) and New Hampshire (+12%).
  • Similar to 2015, California was number one in the total number of diesel cars and SUVs followed by Texas and Florida.
  • Texas once again held the number one spot in the pickup segment (which includes light duty and heavy-duty pick-ups), followed by California and Florida.
  • North Carolina (+9%) was the top state in the growth of all diesel passenger vehicles (cars, SUVs, light pickups and vans) followed by Georgia (+6.5%) and Utah (+6.3%).
  • Smaller population Western states had the overall highest percentage of diesel passenger vehicles led by Wyoming (11%), Montana (8%) and Idaho (7.5%).  All 10 of the states with highest percentage of diesels were from West of the Mississippi River.
  • Diesel passenger vehicles (cars, pickup trucks and SUVs) continued to outnumber hybrid vehicles in all states except California, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.