STUTTGART -- Diesel car sales will not grow as quickly as predicted in the US, says Bernd Bohr, Robert Bosch's automotive chief.
Bohr had been saying that 20 percent of North American light vehicles would be fueled by diesel engines by 2012.
But he now believes it will take two more years to achieve that target.
Consumers in North America may not be ready for diesels yet, he explained, but if oil prices continue to rise -- and, therefore, the price of vehicle fuel -- diesel will gain.
"We're seeing an ever-increasing interest from the American OEMs, with at least two of the Big 3 investing quite heavily into the development of mid-sized diesel engines," Bohr said. He declined to name the two automakers.
"Obviously, there are a lot of unknowns which go into this -- one being the oil price," said Bohr. "And it's always difficult to put a forecast on customer sentiment."
Bohr pointed to another unknown: "What will the Japanese do? For Europe, the Japanese OEMs have turned to diesel."
Nearly 50 percent of the light vehicles in Europe use diesel.
If Japanese automakers bring diesel vehicles to North America, Bohr may adjust his target again.