US: gas users celebrate, diesel adopters feel unlucky image

Just as national average gas prices are hovering now in the $2.40 a gallon area, those depending on diesel have little to no motif to rejoice: they are shedding on average $3.28 a gallon, shows data from the most recent Energy Information Administration survey.

There’s a relatively small number of motorists, together with a huge number of the nation’s truckers that depend on diesel – mostly because this type of combustible never got the wide praise seen in other parts of the world, such as Europe. And while the diesel price also went down around 60 cents since the start of 2014, it’s nowhere near the 87 cents fall of gas – while also needing to take into account the fact that diesel was from the beginning more expensive than gas. And there are now early signs that the widening price gap is taking its toll on the nascent diesel market – with the demand for so-called clean diesels initially climbing a lot faster than the overall automotive market in the US through mid-2014. Sales are now slipping, mostly because the lower gas prices offsets any fuel economy the diesel versions were offering.

Volkswagen, already in trouble because of faltering sales in the US, and also the largest player when it comes to diesel offerings, has already seen the mix of diesel-powered vehicles drop from 25% of the overall US sales to less than 20%. That’s even as during the first half of 2014, diesel sales were surging 25% year-over-year, jumping over the overall 4% growth of the US automotive market.