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Where are the diesels?

I just was in Europe, where just about every vehicle is a diesel. They do not stink, the cities are as clean as ours, the emissions standards are very strict, and cars get 40 mpg. So what’s the deal? Why invest in the complex hybrids, why play around with the very toxic and limited elements of batteries like the Prius? Why aren’t we driving clean diesels?

  1. We do not have low sulfur diesel
  2. We don’t offer as many tax/registration/insurance discounts
  3. Diesel fuel costs more than gas in the US

I owned and drove a Ford Mondeo diesel when I lived in Amsterdam – a great car. I could easily live with a MB E Class CDI Blutec diesel – style, class, performance and great mileage. Check out these records they broke a few years ago:


VW, Mercedes, and BMW already have clean diesel cars here.

I guess they’re convinced that Americans think of diesels negatively.

1. We do not have low sulfur diesel
3. Diesel fuel costs more than gas in the US

1 True, but if you take a look at todays diesel pumps you will find they are pumping ULSD (Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel).

  1. Varies. Some times it is less sometimes more. Currently it is usually more because we use so much diesel in commercial uses. Not long ago it would be cheaper in summer and more expensive in winter (heating season) and during planting and harvesting.

I have one in my garage. Why don’t you?

I guess they’re convinced that Americans think of diesels negatively.

I believe you are right. When Detroit tried to get into the diesel market they jammed old diesel engines designed for other duty into fat cars. Very poor design and marketing.

Smokey Yunick had a very strong opinion about some small diesels,but I’m sure some of his considerations are moot now.They would be great under certain considerations,but I think I’ll stick with gas for awhile,Diesel fuel exceeded the price of regular around here late 2004 and it has been higher ever since,sometimes by a considerable degree.I guess NOX standards are really hurting the oil burners right now-but can you imagine how much NOX a coal fired power plant emits?I figured out I couldn’t save the world by myself a long time ago,now I make sure I do minimal harm. Some of our leaders are Hypocrites(they get rich ,while telling us to tighten our belts) our standard of living is being driven down.
But all that aside,buy a Diesel for the right reasons(all that smooth torque for one) just dont expect a quick payback,some people are just not good candidates for Diesel ownership-Kevin

There currently is not a tax credit for diesels, but if the new CAFE regulations pass, there will be hefty tax credit for them.

While diesel fuel costs more per gallon, it is not nearly enough to offset the exceptional increase in mileage. A Jetta running on regular (2.5L) gets 25 MPG combined city/highway, while the TDI gets 34 MPG. At $2.70/gal, for regular, diesel would have to be $3.67/gal to equalize the expense. Around me, both are about the same cost; I’ve never seen more than a $0.30 premium for diesel.

I think that they are in the pipeline. It takes a while to design them in, even if existing engines that could be dropped in. They also have to pass government testing before they can be sold. It takes a few years. And don’t forget the cost to retool the foundries for the new engines.

  1. Diesel engines are more expensive, so if fuel is cheap (gas and diesel in US = 1/2 European prices), it takes too long to pay off the diesel.
  2. US has more stringent particulate regulations than Europe, so it’s even more expensive to build diesels that meet US regs. The larger diesels from Germany require additional exaust treatment with urea injection.

Most will disagree I’m sure but I feel, most of the reasons given here are peripheral. Diesel is too high a quality fuel for public consumption on such a large scale. Competition with jet fuel, heating oil and diesel for transportation makes private transportation use large scale in the US impractical.

Our air force uses so much jet fuel, it competes with diesel as a high quality fuel from oil. As long as we are the police force of the world, and make little effort to switch to natural gas for transportation, there will be too much political pressure to keep diesel out of the hands of the masses large scale. It needs govt. mandates and support that European govts. give that we don’t. Oil companies make too much money on this lower btu per gallon product and mandated use of diesel for private transportation would more than double it’s cost for everyone.

Gasoline is and will remain king for private transportation here, regardless of how unsafe and inefficient compared to diesel, because it sustains the biggest profit margin long term; and to be blunt, conserves the most oil and meets private transportation demands the best for the lowest cost.

Americans are gun shy about diesels in cars, as our first foray into diesel powered cars in the early 80’s didn’t go so well. Diesels are also slower vs. comparable gas engines. I know the diesel lovers will say “but they have tons of low end torque”, they do, but once the tach swings past 3000 RPM or so they fall flat on their face. Also as others have pointed out in the U.S. we don’t face the kind of taxation that european countries do when it comes to fuel. So from an economic standpoint diesels aren’t as attractive in the U.S. as they are in europe. Then there are other minor quibbles, like the higher intial purchase price, the higher cost of maintence, and the more expensive repairs. In short they aren’t worth it in the U.S. yet.

Another reason more Americans are not driving diesels is that there is not a lot of choices to pick from. They are offered but I will not buy a M/Benz or a VW. I wish there were more choices, I have wanted a diesel for quite some time now.

Twasn’t just Detroit. My father in law had a VW diesel back in that era. It wasn’t as awful as the GM diesels of the time, but it did have rather a lot of problems. And the fuel available at the time, tended to gel at temperatures below about -10F which made driving it an adventure if you lived – as he and we did – North of New York City.

I agree,most people have no idea what a Colossus the military is,anyway we have to do something with the lighter fractions from the crude mix(you know they used to dump gas in the creek)-Kevin

I had a 1976 VW diesel. I got about 180,000 before the wife totaled it. No engine problems of any kind with the engine.

Individual experiences don’t really tell much.

Diesels I agree have a limited power band, but the CVT when strengthened may make it more practical. Also, what better electric generation for hybrid use would there be. Our tractors use diesels in a like manner, just to run a pump in limited RPM ranges just to make the Hydrostat trans functional.

Cars can do the same; but gas is too comparably plentiful and the energy companies have an infrastructure set up to handle it that would take too long and be expensive to change. So in my opinion, we’ll jump over diesels to electrics for personal transportation except for the few of us who worship the ground they leave soot on. And that’s OK by me. We pay enough for it now without competing with the “cars”.

Car makers are having a lot of problems getting diesels to meet emissions standards. So they limit production in case there are major recalls to correct problems…U.S. refineries are geared to produce high volumes of gasoline. The ability to produce significantly more diesel fuel is limited. Backstage deals and negotiations limit marketing diesel passenger cars to consumers in order to keep fuel consumption “balanced”…

Another big factor is the economy. There is too much uncertainty to commit to a dramatic new way of fueling cars, which diesel is. Auto companies that aren’t being forced into make dramatic changes seem to have shelved a lot of projects until the dust settles. Honda for one, has been delaying intro of complient diesel Accords and crv’s for several years. Besides, how many diesel engines can you suddenly expect to import from poor old China and India ? As mentioned, there’s probably a lot of discussion behind the scenes that we’re not aware of that dictates the future of diesel power based upon concerns that we can only guess on.

So they limit production in case there are major recalls to correct problems

What are you talking about?..they aren’t even offered! Ford, GM, Toy, Honda, etc., don’t even offer them.