Diesels aren’t going to be big here in
Maybe some day they will. But I wouldn’t expect any serious volume increase in sales numbers for many years, and even then it would be in pickup trucks, if it comes.
Of course, there will be diesel car sales from the Germans — Mercedes and Volkswagen — but the numbers will be relatively small. Even the new German diesels won’t be sold next year in all 50 states because of emissions regulations from
The diesel people are true believers. No matter what you tell them, they won’t change an opinion.
“They are coming,” says my friend Fred, who does know his cars. “You just cannot argue with the laws of nature. They get 30 percent better fuel economy,” he points out.
He’s right. And as he notes, the hybrids we’ve seen so far get no advantage in highway driving. And nationwide, most of our driving is highway. But he’s a true believer and just won’t listen to the problems that have kept diesels from becoming a major part of our car market so far and are still with us.
First, let me list the pluses that would make you think we are going to see lots of diesels soon. First, the new diesels from
Second, the Japanese are getting involved. Honda says it has developed a new diesel emissions system that will meet our future requirements and we’ll see it in the
Third, Ford, Chrysler, and GM have all said they would/could have diesels in their regular pickup trucks — the F-150, Silverado, and Ram, in three or four years.
Last up is the trend in gasoline prices, and diesels have that 25-30 percent fuel economy advantage.
Now look at the problems. First,
Second, the pickup truck diesels probably would be made by suppliers, like International or Cummins. But what would a pickup diesel for a 1500 model cost? If it’s $4000 to $5000, and that’s not unreasonable, how many would be sold?
Third, the emission control problem hasn’t been solved despite the cheerful talk. Even the newest diesels won’t be sold in
Next, Honda’s new solution to the emissions throws everything into the air. If the Honda system works there’s a good chance that our regulators would not approve the German/American system. Then everyone but Honda would have to start over to match them. Here’s why: the German advanced systems depend on the driver refilling containers of urea; our regulators don’t like to depend on drivers replacing anything. They don’t trust us. The Honda system apparently doesn’t require such replacements. So if it really works our regulators likely would say “no” to any system requiring urea replacement by drivers.
Then, automakers are still improving gasoline-engine fuel economy so that they can approach diesel economy at a much lower cost. There’s the VW TSI approach in
Next, fuel economy still is more important elsewhere than here. Gasoline prices are approaching $7 a gallon in
And lastly, diesel fuel does get a tax break over there that it doesn’t get over here. Sometimes diesel fuel here even costs more than gasoline. All this lessens the payoff for the extra cost of a diesel engine.
This isn’t to knock the diesel. It’s popular in
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