Diesel Light, Medium, and Heavy Duty Vehicles

The commercial fleet market has been a significant contributor to global GHG emissions, with diesel trucks, vans, and buses playing a considerable role. Recent advancements in diesel technology have led to decreased emissions and increased fuel efficiency, but the comprehensive environmental impact remains a significant concern. In this context, a holistic examination of diesel vehicles' GHG emissions, their overall sustainability impact, and production forecasts is of paramount importance.

New Advancements in Diesel Vehicles

Significant advancements have been made to reduce the emission footprint of diesel vehicles. The incorporation of selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and diesel particulate filters (DPF) technologies have significantly reduced particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. In addition, advancements in diesel engine design, such as high-pressure fuel injection, turbocharging, and variable valve timing, have improved fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.

Additionally, biodiesel and renewable diesel have emerged as sustainable alternatives to conventional diesel fuel. These fuels can be used in existing diesel engines without modifications and offer lower lifecycle GHG emissions compared to fossil diesel.

GHG Emissions Quantification

A common way to quantify GHG emissions is in terms of GGE, which equates the energy content of a given quantity of an alternative fuel to the energy content of a similar volume of gasoline. The emissions from a gallon of diesel are approximately 10,180 grams of CO2, compared to about 8,887 grams of CO2 per gallon of gasoline. Therefore, one gallon of diesel is equivalent to 1.15 GGE in terms of GHG emissions.

Biodiesel and renewable diesel offer significant reductions in GHG emissions. Biodiesel reduces lifecycle GHG emissions by approximately 74% compared to petroleum diesel, while renewable diesel can reduce lifecycle GHG emissions by up to 80%.

Sustainability Impact and Cost Analysis

While diesel vehicles offer advantages like superior torque and fuel economy, they pose challenges to sustainability due to their GHG emissions, particulate matter, and NOx emissions. The use of advanced technologies and biofuels can reduce these impacts, but the overall sustainability of diesel vehicles remains a complex issue with environmental, economic, and social dimensions.

Environmental costs include air pollution, which leads to health issues and climate change. Economically, while diesel vehicles have lower fuel costs due to better fuel efficiency, they have higher upfront costs due to complex emission control systems. In the social realm, diesel pollution is a significant contributor to air quality issues, especially in urban areas, leading to potential health issues.

Production Forecast

As of 2021, diesel vehicle production is in a state of flux, largely due to the rise of electric vehicles (EVs) and increasingly strict emissions standards. In the US, diesel vehicle production is projected to decrease over the next decade, as the country shifts towards more sustainable transportation solutions. However, in regions where EV infrastructure is lacking, diesel vehicles are expected to maintain their dominance in the short to medium term.

Globally, the diesel vehicle market is expected to grow at a sluggish rate due to the mixed influences of growing demand in developing economies and declining demand in developed economies. This trend might shift if biodiesel and renewable diesel become more widely available and cost-competitive, potentially boosting the demand for diesel vehicles.


While advancements in diesel vehicles have led to improved fuel efficiency and reduced emissions, their sustainability impact remains a concern due to their substantial GHG emissions and the associated economic, environmental, and social costs. The production of diesel vehicles is likely to decrease in developed economies but might sustain or grow in developing economies. The rise of alternative fuels like biodiesel and renewable diesel presents an opportunity for the diesel vehicle industry to mitigate its environmental impact and potentially influence its future production trends.

Future Research

Future research should focus on developing cleaner diesel technologies, enhancing the viability of biodiesel and renewable diesel, and understanding the potential of these fuels in altering the production trends of diesel vehicles. Also, more research should be conducted to quantify the comprehensive costs of diesel vehicles, taking into account environmental, economic, and social factors to guide policy and industry decisions.