Now that the US market is finally beginning to realize the benefits of diesel engines, one of the largest suppliers of diesel fuel injection systems, Siemens VDO, is predicting that sales of the oil-burners in the US will reach 867,000 units by 2012. This is up from an estimated 653,000 diesels this year. By contrast, hybrid sales are only expected to top 510,000 by 2012 and are only estimated to reach 193,000 units this year.

Apart from a few luxury German sedans and Jeep Grand Cherokees, all diesels currently sold in the US are pickup trucks and work vehicles, according to Automotive News. However, news that GM will be offering a range of diesel options in its Cadillac and Saturn lines, as well as new diesel offerings from most of the major Japanese and German makes, means the US should see a significant rise in diesel sales within the next coupe of years.

Diesels can get up to 30% better fuel economy than an equivalent petrol engine, and in many cases mileage figures for diesels are better than those of electric-hybrid models. You only have to look at the premium some people are willing to pay for the hybrid Prius to know that there’s a willing market out there keen for eco-friendly cars and diesel is the right product to fill that gap.