Lack of diesel cars in the US

We just spent 10 days driving a Kia Carens (Rondo in North America) around Eastern Europe. 6 forward speeds (I think 6th is OD, but the manual was in German) We got great mileage with the diesel - even at 130 kph on the autobahn. My question is, why can’t they sell diesel cars like this in the US? Is it a pollution issue?

One of the reasons used to be the poor quality of diesel fuel in the US. That has improved greatly. An other reason is the way emissions are measured in the US compared to Europe. In the US most diesels need exhaust after treament. That greatly adds to the cost of an econmy car.

With gas at only half the price that of Europe, it’s hard to justify a small diesel car.
in the US. But more are coming as a result of the stricter CAFE standards. Good diesels are a great way to boost miles per gallon.

In the paper this week there was a comparison between a new Golf diesel and a standard Prius. Both cars were loaned to ordinary citizens for a week’s use. That included a mix of city and highway driving and a bit of cold weather operation with the poor spring weather here. The result was excatly the same; 45.5 miles per gallon. Far less for the Prius than advertised, since that one is only rated with the heater OFF, and no A/C in use.

So, if you are thinking of getting a high mileage car, the Prius will likely be more reliable, but slower, and the Golf diesel lots of fun tho drive and you don’t need to replace the big battery during during its life.

They do. I have VW diesel, a 2002 New Beetle, only a few minor repairs and great mileage. Before that I had a 1976 VW Rabbit diesel. I would not have bought the second on if I did not like the first. The first one had no repairs until it was totaled in an accident at bout 190,000 miles (no injuries in the Rabbit.)

They are out there. I believe you can find a few non-VW’s as well, if you look.

Good Luck

There are several reasons. First, they cost a bit more, and when gas is cheap, few people want to spend the money. The opposite has been true elsewhere, with both much more expensive gas and sometimes lower taxes on diesel, doubly encouraging diesel use. Second is the pollution issue you mentioned, with diesel’s particulates and NOX not meeting EPA regulations. VW has figured out how to do it with their smaller engines, but the larger engines require urea tanks and injection, an additional complication. Finally, folks in the US were disappointed with some domestic diesels back in the 80s, so their reputation wasn’t so hot.

All that said, the VW diesels have gotten lots of compliments, and make good sense as long as diesel fuel prices don’t spike like they did this last go-round.

In my opinion, diesel follows the money, and with price of fuel in Europe it’s a worth while push. On a large scale, because of our trucking industry upon which we are much more dependent than Europe, you would see a big increase in diesel price with the competition from cars, thereby increasing commodity prices overall.

So, on the surface it seems like a good idea, and for the few who are willing, it is. But, with our economy so much more dependent upon roadway transportation, we can’t afford the competition on “vanity”(excuse the term) use of diesel when as a fuel, it’s too darn valuable when gasoline serves the purpose. With the better energy density, keep heavy trucking/train in the diesel realm, let cars stay with gasoline and plug in hybrids for the future. We can’t afford it…

There are 4 VWs, 2 Audis, 2 MB, and 2 BMWs offered with diesel engines in the US. There are, of course, big honkin’ trucks, too. But that’s not what we’re talking about.

One reason, by the time they are able to get USA certified for emissions, they lose much of the high fuel mileage and reliability the European and Japanese models enjoy…

A second reason is a back-stage agreement whereby U.S consumers get to burn the gasoline and everybody else gets to burn the diesel…The trucking, rail-road, airline and farming industries are already paying a premium for diesel fuel and the last thing they want is to have U.S. Motorists switching over to diesel powered cars and putting further demands on the diesel fuel supply…There is just not enough distillate fuel to go around…SOMEBODY has to burn the gasoline and that somebody is YOU…

I would like to see diesels catch on a little more in the USA. I drive a small school bus, and occasionally drive an 84 passenger school bus. I think that diesels, although they do not have the flat-out horsepower that a gas engine can produce, are better suited to moving heavy pieces of metal (like cars) around. The power that a diesel produces is more tractable. Diesels also use so little fuel at idle that they will not even warm-up unless you actually drive somewhere and make the thing work. Turbocharging has made them much cleaner and more efficient.

Actually, much of the move has been AWAY from diesels in public transport, particularly in urban areas, and towards, say, CNG as an alternative fuel–trading outright efficiency for cleaner air.

I think a well-designed CNG engine would capitalize on the high octane rating (129) of NG with a correspondingly high CR and thus much of the thermodynamic efficency of a diesel, while being MUCH cleaner to operate.

Convoluted schemes to “clean” diesel emmisions (urea, etc) remind me of the phrase “Putting lipstick on a pig.”

My first diesel car was a new 1981 and I have owned a diesel car since that time. Fuel quality was never a problem for me. Why do you say poor fuel quality? Was that before 1981?

As I posted previously, I have owned a diesel car since 1981; still do and drive it daily. I often wonder why everyone did not buy a small diesel car when they were more easily available and were not burdened with electronics and emission controls. Such small diesel cars would include VW Rabbit, VW Golf and Chevette who offered a car with an excellent Isuzu 1.8 liter engine designed originally as a diesel, not a gasoline engine conversion.

People turned their noses up at these cars, considered too slow in traffic, too smelly, thought in error that diesel fuel would be hard to find and their minds were made fearful of diesels because of problems with GM’s converted V8 gasoline engine diesels.

Winter starting in the north is an ongoing battle and certain precautions can be made to overcome this but for the typical consumer who had no time for this extra care for older diesels, a diesel car may not have been a good choice.

The replies have been interesting. I had not considered the politics of diesel vs. gasoline. I do know that diesel is subsidized in Europe. I have a friend who owns a diesel Golf and likes it. I wish VW’s reliability were a bit better. I can’t afford the BMWs, Audis, and MBs. I have a rule against buying a car that costs more than my house. Thanks.