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During the gasoline price surge in the early 1980s, the cost of diesel fuel was significantly less than gasoline, resulting in new interest in diesel light-duty vehicles. Many manufacturers at that time produced diesel cars and light trucks. In model year (MY) 1984, there were 101 different models of light vehicles with diesel engines, including many common models like the Chevrolet Chevette, Ford Escort, Buick Regal, and Toyota Camry. Diesel engines in light vehicles, however, were not widely embraced by American consumers and by MY 2000, there was only one manufacturer selling diesel light vehicles. A slow resurgence of diesel models culminated in 2014 with 24 diesel models. By MY 2017, four different manufacturers had 11 light vehicle models for sale with diesel engines.

Number of Diesel Models and the Price of a Gallon of Diesel Fuel, 1980-2017

Graph showing number of diesel models by year with an overlay of diesel fuel prices by year for the years 1980 to 2017

Note: Diesel prices were adjusted for inflation using the U. S. Bureau of Economic Analysis Consumer Price Index.


Number of diesel models – U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, data, queried on October 2, 2017.

Price of a gallon of diesel fuel – Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Transportation Energy Data Book: Edition 36, Table 10.4, forthcoming. Original source: Energy Information Administration.

Fact #1005 Dataset

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