Wyoming drivers turn to diesel at a higher rate than any state in the U.S., according to a recently released study of state vehicle registration statistics.
In 2013, Wyoming drivers registered 66,362 diesel passenger vehicles. Diesels accounted for 10.8 percent of all registered vehicles in the state, according to the study conducted by R.L. Polk and Company.
Industry officials credit this popularity to the fuel’s towing power and competitive pricing in the state.
Diesel remains easily accessible in Wyoming and provides the towing power needed for ranching and mining operations that make up much of the state’s industry, according to Mark Larson, executive director of the Colorado Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association.
Competitive pricing helped diesel owners in the state endure the rising cost of ultra-low-sulfur diesel and maintain Wyoming’s fondness for the fuel, according to Larson.
“Traditionally, the prices in Wyoming on diesel, even as the conversion to ultra-low-sulfur diesel drove the prices up in other regions, remained competitive with gasoline in the state,” Larson said.
With added emissions rules requiring the use of low-sulfur diesel and the installation of emissions reduction technology in newly produced diesel vehicles, the study showed the popularity of the fuel waning in some regions as prices continued to rise.
Industry officials say today’s diesel engines are meeting the same Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards for particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and ozone-forming compounds as their gasoline counterparts.
“There’s no special treatment given to diesels these days. That used to be true 10 years ago, but it’s not true any longer,” said Allen Schaefer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum.
The fuel’s competitive price and towing power often lead Wyoming drivers to opt for diesel pickups over gasoline-burning options.
Larson said Wyoming’s diesel use can be attributed to the characteristics of the state.
“Our bottom line would be, Wyoming works harder than other states,” Larson said.
The study found pickup trucks remain the largest share of diesel-powered passenger vehicles on the road nationally, but new diesel engine options in cars and crossovers are gaining popularity.
“Consumers have an ever-growing number of choices for more fuel-efficient vehicles and this analysis shows that clean diesels are gaining in popularity all across the nation,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. “Diesel car registrations are up 30 percent since 2010, while the overall market only increased 3.6 percent.”
Wyoming was ahead of Montana, at 8.1 percent, and Idaho, at 6.9 percent.