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Sales, Offerings of Diesel Cars Surge in the U.S.

Posted: 01/09/2011 - 9:30 PM ET

According to a report by Bloomberg, both Audi and Mercedes-Benz plan to double their offering of diesel models in the United States as the technology shakes off its stereotypical image as loud and smelly.

Next week at the Detroit auto show, Mercedes will present a diesel flagship S-Class to go on sale in the second half of 2011. The four-wheel drive vehicle will be the fifth U.S. diesel model for Mercedes and will return about 35 miles per gallon. The company plans to have eight diesel models in the U.S. by 2014.

Philipp Schiemer, product management vice president for Mercedes said, "We don't have to push diesel anymore. Our expansion is being driven by customer demand. The customers who have tried diesel don't want to switch back."

Audi sells diesel versions of the A3 compact and Q7 SUV in the U.S. and plans to offer the diesel variant of the top-of-the-line A8 and full-sized A6 in the next two years.

From 2006 forward, ultra-low-sulfur diesel has been gradually changing the public perception of diesel-fueled passenger cars. Better components to filter soot and to remove nitrogen oxide from the emissions has made these vehicles even more welcome in the United States.

In 1997 only 35 percent of filling stations in the United States sold diesel fuel. In 2007, that number had climbed to 52 percent, according to the trade group Diesel Technology Forum, and is continuing to grow.

In 2007 and 2008 approximately 8,000 diesel vehicles were sold per year in the United States. In 2009 alone, that number jumped to 160,000 vehicles, the first time diesel passenger cars sold more than 100,000 units in the U.S. since 1984.

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