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European Fuel Efficiency

My wife and I recently traveled to the U.K. where diesel fuel for our rental car cost just over $8 dollars per gallon. Strangest thing though, our car as well as everyone else?s seemed to average around 50 miles per gallon fuel efficiency. This included a 7 passenger Volkswagen mini van, various Fords, Chryslers, Toyotas and Hondas. I am guessing that not all these vehicles run on diesel engines which I understand to be somewhat more efficient. So why don?t our car companies sell such efficient vehicles here in the U.S.? Just think how less dependent on foreign oil we could be. Call me paranoid, but I smell collusion here. I can?t be the first person to notice this phenomenon, so maybe I?m just missing something really obvious here. Any answers out there?

Beats my butt too. Ford’s latest Fiesta…40 mpg…for sale only in european markets HUH ???

First, remember the gallons there are 20% larger than ours, so you got 40 miles/US gallon, not unusual for a diesel. Also, car engines are smaller there, vehicles are smaller, so that results in better mpgs. There’s no secret, no ‘collusion’, it all results from decades of low gas prices in the US making lower mpg vehicles attractive to purchasers here. If we had always been paying the extremely high gas prices they pay, we’d be buying high mpg vehicles. Simple.

The Fiesta will be available to the North American market soon. The car will be built in Mexico (likely Hermosillo) and the diesel engine will be built in Windsor, Canada acrosss the river from Detroit. This engine plant used to build large V8s, but is otherwise very modern and efficient.

Introduction of new Fiesta likely late 2009 or early 2010.

Because of the size of the US travel times are longer and we accordingly seek comfort over economy. This is further compounded by the obesity of Americans and their inability to fit into small cars. Now that gas has dropped down to $1.60 the gas mileage or diesel mileage demand will temporarily cease, but it will once again rebound and we will once again cry for relief.

Diesels get better mileage than gas cars; it may also be related to gear and differential ratios. And I will call you paranoid. Oil companies would have to pay too much to make your collusion scheme a reality. If they paid that much, the Beg 3 would not be in such dire straits. If they could get better gas mileage within the existing framework, they would do it.

remove your tin foil hat. As others have said, it’s partially because the euro gallon is larger than the U.S. gallon. The Extra-Urban fuel ratings that Europe goes by are also far more generous than the EPA’s method of calculating fuel econonmy. Also the cars (even the people-movers/minivans) are quite a bit smaller than what you or I are used to. Also there are different emissions standards that come into play as well.

No they are not in with some sort of conspiracy. It is simple. The US car buyer is not looking for high mileage enough to get the auto companies to make more high mileage cars. Some of those high mileage cars are available (some even made) here. But not enough people want to buy them. They are willing to bet on cheap oil and want to own a car that weighs twice what their father’s car weighed and gets half the mileage.

If we would boost the price of fuel back to the $4.00 - $5.00 range and made it clear it would remain there or go up, then people might start thinking straight, but people would rather have higher income and property taxes and cheap gas.

It’s also worth mentioning that the fuel prices in Europe are artifically high due to taxation. The wholesale price of a barrel of oil is about the same everywhere.

And, in anddition to the larger gallon, a gallon of Diesel contains more energy and actually weighs more. If you compared miles per pound (or km per stone) of fuel, it’d be a lot closer.

Plus Diesels are highly-polluting…ever seen the soot a Peterbuilt kicks out?

I would assume that there are engine configurations that are not “acceptable” to the US consumer because of existing perceptions. A very striking example IMHO is the Saturn Astra. It is built in Europe by Opel. They sell it as the Opel Astra (surprise!).If you go to the Opel website you’ll find that the engine lineup starts with a 1.4 liter Ecotec gasoline. It gets a whopping 40 MPG in mixed driving. The downside for Americans I think would be that the 90 HP and the 12 seconds from 0 to 60 are not considered acceptable. The 1.3 liter Diesel (90 HP as well) gets 46 MPG in mixed driving. Same problem for the American consumer I suspect.

As a reult, if you go to the Saturn website ( you will find that the smallest engine is the 1.8 liter ecotec with 140 HP (notice the difference)that gets “only” 29 MPG or so in mixed driving. But it goes to 60 in under 9 seconds. That very engine is one of the stronger ones in their Euro-Lineup - here it’s the least available. And yet says “A decent launch requires at least 3,500 rpm with traction control disabled”.

I guess we just have different priorities. If you could buy that 46 MPG 90 HP version would you do it? Even at 4$ gas is simply to cheap here to make it even an option.

Simple! This Is The United States. This Is Not The United Kingdom.

They have a problem in the UK with fuel prices. Those cars are necessary for many. I have driven VW diesels before. I worked for VW. The mpg was great, but that’s all that was. I don’t want to have to drive any of those little diesels. I choose large gasoline burning American cars. I have not heard of a shortage of diesel VWs here. It must be a supply and demand thing. Nobody’s demanding and there’s no need to supply. I don’t want this country modeled after countries with various problems, including $8 fuel.

America, What A Country!

I believe insurance and other taxes are based upon the size of the engine in the vehicle as well as other varying factors. So it’s more economical to buy the small displacement engine in terms of fuel and insurance

I have not heard of a shortage of diesel VWs here. It must be a supply and demand thing.

Many VW dealers in fact maintain a wait list for the new Jetta TDI that can be 3 months long. Expect to drive at least 1000+ price premium.

Sort of makes sense: Huge displacement engines use more gas, are worse for the environment and therefore taxed higher.

The answers are all there, we just have to pretend that we were asked the question and have to write an essay about it. Why aren’t there more SUV’s in Europe? Plenty of answers there.

I would be as interested to know…if diesel is $8/ Imp. gallon, mainly because of higher taxes, what taxes if any are lower ? Property, income etc. Europe more consumption based taxed economy ? That would agree with why larger cars/engines are taxed more.

Remember that Europe provides far more services to their citizens than the USA does, such as health care and a full retirement. They have to pay for it somehow, and the fuel tax helps.

Oh, I was so happy to find this discussion. It’s been on my mind a lot lately. Just look at the specs of the Citroen C3 – 76 mpg (Imperial) which is roughly 63 mpg U.S. I know, I know – American car companies sold what American consumers wanted. But as someone already pointed out, some of these cars are repackaged foreign models, (e.g. Opel Astra). From a technical standpoint, it would seem quick and easy to start offering the more efficient engines in the U.S. showrooms.

There are plenty of efficient foreign cars that could probably be sold here tomorrow if we removed NHTSA’s stranglehold over vehicle “standards”. The rest of the world lives by the standards set by the ECE. The safety argument for keeping NHTSA is baloney – the U.S. now places 10th in deaths per 100 million miles. By the way, NHTSA’s budget is north of 800 million dollars annually. I hope Obama has his scalpel ready.

Efficient cars are available in Europe because of successful fuel taxation. We need a stiff dose here too, as a way to force people to change their behavior.

Since a larger engine uses more fuel, the owner is already paying more tax by using more fuel. This double dipping of sorts by paying more tax for displacement, C02 emissions, and the congestion charges they have in London reeks of socialism.