Diesel Vehicles Hold Great Market Potential If They Can Get Over Their Bad Reputation

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New study finds many American consumers are ready for diesel vehicles.

But tremendous technological advances have brought diesels into the 21st century, effectively mooting whatever validity those perceptions may once have had.

While prominent in many overseas markets, aside for trucks and a few exceptions, diesel vehicles have not made much of a splash in the US market. However, according to a new study by TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, this may be changing.

In fact, the study found that a whopping 20 million "driver" households are interested in learning more about diesel vehicles.

"We found a strong underlying current of interest in diesels among many consumers," says Raghavan Mayur, an expert on the US automobile market and president of TechnoMetrica.

That interest has the potential to translate into concrete sales. Case in point: the study found that one out of four (24%) households are likely to consider a diesel vehicle the next time they are in the market to purchase a new vehicle.

That likelihood tends to be highest among pickup truck buyers (51%) as well as among those who already own a diesel vehicle (50%).

According to Mayur, these findings suggest "the existence of a strong, loyal core of diesel buyers who may be tapped into for viral promotional and educational campaigns."

"It also demonstrates the loyalty consumers show towards diesels once they have had positive exposure," he says.

Education is Key

In the past, one of the key weaknesses diesel vehicles have had to contend with have been negative consumer perceptions.

"For years, consumers have equated diesels with being dirty, smelly, noisy and clunky," says Mayur. "But tremendous technological advances have brought diesels into the 21st century, effectively mooting whatever validity those perceptions may once have had."

However, according to the study, many negative stereotypes still persist.

For starters, about two in five (39%) say that their primary concern regarding diesel vehicles is that they are dirty, noisy and smelly.

What's more, when pitting diesels against other engine types, just 17% think that a diesel will afford them with better mileage during highway driving than, for example, a hybrid engine (68%).

According to the study, such incorrect views are undermining diesel makers' prospects among an estimated 15 millions households that do most of their driving on highways.

"Those are potential sales that are being lost primarily because consumers lack better information," says Mayur. "Getting good, quality information to consumers is key to ensuring that diesels reach their full potential in the US market."

And what brands do American consumers most associate with diesels? According to the study, Ford, Dodge and Mercedes-Benz are in the top three.

About the Report
Based on a random nationally representative sample of 1,225 adults, the Alternative Fuels Tracker Report provides readers with insightful information on emerging trends and gauges consumers' level of interest in various alternative fuel technologies (hybrids, diesels, flex fuel, ethanol), how appealing they are relative to each other, consumers' level of knowledge, consumers' perceptions regarding alternative vehicle technologies, future purchase plans, and the most effective approaches for successfully marketing these technologies.

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