The future for diesel cars

January 19, 2009
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A number of car companies have introduced, or plan to introduce, clean-diesel engines to cater to buyers wanting better fuel efficiency.

Diesels from Volkswagen and other manufacturers boost mileage by about a third, but much of that advantage in the past year or two has been wiped out by the gaping difference between diesel and gasoline prices. That spread was about 80 cents at points last year.

Diesel currently runs about 53 cents a gallon over the national average of $1.78 for unleaded, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Tom Kloza, one of the nationâ??s foremost energy analysts, believes the gap will shrink to as little as 25 cents over the next few years.

That will make the diesel option more attractive for buyers, says Kloza, who publishes Oil Price Information Service.

Buyers most likely to steer toward diesels are soccer moms and other upscale buyers who want to keep driving big SUVs, he says.

Diesel burners â??have a more substantial future,â?? Kloza contends.

What about you? Is a diesel engine appealing?
  • I drove two VW diesel cars from 1981 through 2002. They work out real well for people who drive a lot and for long distances. You have to have the right temperment for them, since they do not behave like gas engine cars.
    If I were doing that kind of driving now, I would probably consider one. I would certainly like to drive one of the new ones to see how they are different.
  • I drove VW diesels for years and when I bought a new car a few years ago, was thrilled that the New Beetle came with a TDI motor. The mileage is OK in the city and the turbo gives it a lot more get up and go than the Rabbit I used to drive. (VW actually sponsors a TDI cup challenge through the SCCA using Jetta TDIs) So far, maintenance costs are less than a gasoline engine - no spark plugs, wires, etc. Over 5 years about the only things I've had are oil changes and some other filter changes. I'm holding onto this car until VW gets it's diesel hybrid on the market.
  • I agree we'll be seeing more diesels on the streets, especially after Congress does something about the antiquated tax structure on diesel fuel and gets the price more in line with gasoline. Today's diesel engines are very clean-burning and when taken as a whole (pollution plus less consumption) are a great alternative for the environment. We really need to catch up with Europe in this respect - more new cars have diesels than gas engines and they're trending even MORE toward diesel.

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