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I think Dr. Marcus Parche is pretty enthusiastic about his job. He’s one of the experts in passenger-car diesel systems at the German electronics giant Robert Bosch GmbH. Amidst a kaleidoscope of charts and graphs in Reston, Virginia, last month, he regaled his autowriter audience with the benefits of cutting-edge pumpe düse, or unit-injector, diesel engine technology.
“Ze injector produces a pressure of 29,000 pounds per square inch,” he explained, “and ze injection timing event is precise to between one and two millionths of a second. Zese tolerances are consistent at a rate of 10,000 cycles per minute.”
Parche was clearly in awe of the micro-engineering that he and his Bosch colleagues have wrought. Even a layman has to admit that accomplishing the same microsecond accuracy 10,000 times a minute represents pretty dextrous handiwork with a stopwatch. It needs to be. Volkswagen is depending on Bosch's unit-injector technology to help revolutionize the way Americans think about personal transportation. This month, VW is debuting two new turbo direct-inject (TDI) diesel-powered vehicles in the U.S.: a 2.0-liter Passat TDI (in both sedan and wagon variants) and a 5.0-liter twin-turbo V10 Touareg TDI sport/utility vehicle.
Both vehicles exploit the well-timed wizardry of pumpe düse injection to deliver an impressive combination of power, fuel economy, and cleaner emissions. But it’s altogether another sort of timing that augurs well for VW’s new diesels. With gasoline costing more than $2 per gallon, the decision to import two fuel-conscious VW’s smacks of marketing opportunism of the most enlightened kind. The Passat TDI achieves 27 mpg city and 38 mpg highway, while the V10 Touareg TDI rates 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway.
Diesel the “alternate fuel” for now
Volkswagen, in other words, hopes that current events will help teach U.S. car buyers what their European and Canadian counterparts already know: Diesel is a viable alternative fuel whose technology is sophisticated, economical and — best of all — already available.