Hoping Diesels Will Make a Big Push Soon? Don't Count on It

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It seems like the timing is perfect. U.S. automakers are being pushed by state and federal regulations to increase their corporate average fuel economy (CAFE), and their marketing departments are falling all over themselves trying to prove their cars and trucks are saving the country from spending more on foreign oil, as both gas and diesel engine technologies seem to be advancing by leaps and bounds. 

So why don't we see more cars and trucks with new diesel engines or hear about them coming to market anytime soon? Sure, heavy-duty work trucks will continue to sell record numbers of bigger turbo-diesel engines, but nowhere else do we see that kind of interest. 

Lindsay Chappell of Automotive News even goes so far as to equate the diesel issue in this country to be a bit like soccer in his recent article. "Soccer is the most popular game in the world. But the prospect of Monday Night Football stepping aside for men in shorts is about as likely as U.S. auto companies ever replacing their gasoline engines with diesels," he wrote.

In his wonderfully laid-out article, Chappell is not optimistic about more diesels coming to the many U.S. vehicles. Among the most obvious issues regarding the complexity of the U.S. marketplace is the fact that in most places, diesel fuel costs more than gas, and in some cases it costs as much as 70 cents more per gallon compared with regular gas. When you look at the incredible efficiencies that powertrain engineers are getting out of current gas engines — through direct injection, turbocharging, air management, engine start/stop and advance intake and exhaust timing software — the gas-mileage benefits of a small turbo-diesel engine are not what they used to be. 

Companies like Honda, Toyota and Mazda, as well as all the premium German brands, have high-quality, small turbo-diesels that they sell in other markets but are skeptical about their ability to sell in large numbers in the U.S. 

"Their benefit is just not immediately obvious to U.S. consumers," says Dave Coleman, product development engineer at Mazda North American Operations in Irvine, Calif. "It requires some arithmetic and a calculator. The pump price of diesel is higher than gasolin, higher even than premium gas. And the diesel engine costs more to build, so it's more expensive to buy. So you have to calculate what your savings will be over years of driving."

Regardless, all the midsize and full-size pickup truck makers will have to seriously consider how they will achieve the mandated increases in fuel economy over the next several years. Companies like Ford seem to have a jump on the segment with the huge investment made in EcoBoost technology, but what will that mean to other companies? Chevy and GMC have small pickups coming to the U.S. market that will have to do a much better job than the current I-5 and V-8 options. It would be nice to have both turbocharged gas and diesel options in both the small and full-size half-ton segments, but we can only guess what that will do to base and premium packaging prices. 

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Well, at least somebody has finally said it.

"When you look at the incredible efficiencies that powertrain engineers are getting out of current gas engines — through direct injection, turbocharging, air management, engine start/stop and advance intake and exhaust timing software — the gas-mileage benefits of a small turbo-diesel engine are not what they used to be."

"And the diesel engine costs more to build, so it's more expensive to buy. So you have to calculate what your savings will be over years of driving."

Hmm, this sounds like the same thought process that should be used against hybrids, yet automakers are falling over themselves pushing that technology. Guess the government's efforts to distort the market in favor of hybrids are working.

Also, I find the notion that we Americans won't buy diesels because we associate them with being "too European" hilarious.

Oh don't worry, I'm not counting on it.

If you don't like the price of diesel from the oil cartels you can make your own bio diesel.

I think the bigger problem is the several thousand dollar extra cost for the onboard emissions control system, DEF injector, etc.

None of the automakers want to go first and try to compete on price against competitors with a vehicle that costs several thousand less.

isn't the chevy cruze getting a diesel? i guess could be all talk

If you check into the taxes on gasoline vs diesel you will see that in the last 4 years they have increased diesel tax every year but not gasoline tax. Now if they had the same amount of tax, diesel would be a little bit cheaper then gasoline.

@ Dafish yeah so the gov can make a killing cause 80% of our goods are moved by diesel, so the cost for everything goes up

You can grow your own diesel in your back yard.
imagine that, renewable, USA grown fuel. Thats probably
why we aren't seeing diesels here. I would buy a diesel car or truck in a heart beat.

With all the technology in modern diesels that heavily compromises cost of ownership, reliability, and fuel economy, I'd probably want to rely on anything else. That, plus in my climate, theyare just extra hassle again, the extreme cold in winter here seems to be very unforgiving to them. I prefer petrol burners by 1000%.

it's a shame but it makes sense to me. I think a change in government policies could really change things though. I'm hopeful a new president might have some kind of effect. But maybe I'm completely wrong?

What is also not mentioned in the article is that Diesel engines cost more to maintain than gasolie engines as well.

anyone heard of shade tree conversions? they put old diesel tractor engines in full size pickups and get mpg in the 40s and 50s. I'd consider it if I knew a little more about engines. I'd like to see an article on that.

@DB, I would argue that depending on how long you keep your vehicles the cost of ownership of diesel can be less. Most current diesels will far outlast the life of a gasoline and at least with pickups the residual value is significantly greater. So even if you are not keeping the 200-300k that a diesel will last the residual on the sale makes up for the potential increase in routine fluid changes.

What I love about these stories is that the authors continue to believe that customers driving purchase reason is based on economics. True for many but certainly not all. Or we would all be in the cheapest car out there that gets us down the road if that were the case.

Well if we switched all commercial vehicles to CNG then the price of diesel would drop considerably along with gas and everybody would could have their way.

Diesel costs more in Australia as compared to Petrol, but overall operating costs are lower. For Towing, Diesels well and truly have it over Petrol engines.

"When you look at the incredible efficiencies that powertrain engineers are getting out of current gas engines — through direct injection, turbocharging, air management, engine start/stop and advance intake and exhaust timing software"
Well that applies to modern diesels as well, but you are getting much better mileage and towing.

The reason they WILL NOT be introduced is summed up in this statement.
"Their benefit is just not immediately obvious to U.S. consumers,"

My company is replacing a lot of diesel heavy trucks (not pickups, class 7 and 8 commercial trucks) with new CNG trucks. Diesel is on the way out. Too dirty, to expensive to clean them up. Not efficient or reliable anymore. Mybe synthetic fuel will save diesel, but that's a lot ways out.

@ tundra what a joke

You must only know people that have ford diesels with powerstrokes in them or dodges with cummins diesels.

even in SUB zero weather my 02 duramax with 180k on it fires right up. Of course so does my tundra that heats up faster than any of the other trucks because of the fluid to fluid heat exchangers on it. Being in a cold climate you REALLY should take a better look at the tundra, especially since you hate it so much. lol IMAGINE when you start your truck up your TRANSMISSION will warm up too so you dont destroy it, the Tundra is the only one that has this feature.

OMG just saw the chinease are coping the F150 now!!! Bull $h1t! Why cant the trade commision or whatever stop this. It even has a Blue Oval WTF!


@Mike The Jianghuai Automobile Co or JAC is China's biggest maker of Trucks. There must be about 15-20 builders of pickups in China all dirt cheap, with Yellow Block Cummins. I guess the JAC can be sold at Walmart.

@BigBob. Diesel refers to the engine type, not what it burns. There are Class 8 type Trucks using LNG, better for long distant operations than CNG.

hahaha china fords my god so this is a way to make fords fall apart even faster then they already do lmao to funny i have to say

They either used a F150 to break all the tools for this truck... or FORD has SOLD OUT and are giving the Chinese there tool & dies for this CRAP! If they are stealing the design and making molds off of American Made R&D we better have someone stand up and put a halt to this! I swear I will never buy another article of clothing, car, parts, dishes, furniture, TV, ANYTHING that says Made in $h6T Hole China ever again!!!!!! GRRRRRRrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'll pay $100 MORE for the Made in AMERICA if I have to!!

Since when is cold weather a reason not to buy a diesel engined truck? Diesel will jell around -45C but there are winter blends (basically a mix of heating oil and/or av gas). I haven't heard of any problems for decades.

I think Robert Ryan hit the nail on the head
"Their benefit is just not immediately obvious to U.S. consumers."
You can also factor in fuel stations that carry diesel. I live in an area where diesel trucks are a dime a dozen, but 1/4 of gas stations also carry diesel.

The single biggest factor regarding US diesels, by far, is European regulations. Right now Euro diesels have to be re-engineered to meet US regs which exceed their Euro 5 standard, but in 2014 I believe it is they will need to meet Euro 6, which matches or exceeds the US standard. So at that time, the cost of bringing Euro diesels over will no longer need to include re-engineering for emissions, just the cost of certification and importing or tooling a factory here.

Now the Euro market does not have large displacement diesel passenger vehicles, so we are probably looking at existing engines around 3.0L with 6 cylinders that are used in large European market passenger cars and SUVs becoming available here.

So this won't be reviving the 4.5L Duramax or Ford 4.4 TT. The net result of all this is likely post 2015 3.0L V6 diesels will be optional in half ton pickups, and personally I wouldn't mind seeing one in 3/4 ton work trucks either.

BMW just released a 3.0L inline six with triple turbochargers that makes 381 hp @ 5400 rpm and 540 lb-ft from 1800 rpm and would still get 30 mpg highway in a pickup truck.

30 mpg Silverado with an 8-speed automatic and 300 hp/500 lb-ft V6 turbodiesel anyone?

I would rather have the government get their stuck up,agenda ridden nose out of the automotive world,they just do nothing but ruin the automotive world,polititans ,law makers know nothing ,especially in the automotive world,cuurent administration is the worst for automotive fans !!!!! New scientific results show we are not heading towards global warming,but global cooling !! It is c not caused by man but by nature !! So,it doesnt matter if I drive my 510 hp V-10 Dodge around and that is what people want more powerful e engines !!

Give people what they want...Powerful gas engines in trucks,drill for oil,get out of opec so gas is cheaper and trucks have more power !!

@Mad Mopar I agree there is a natural cycle of heating and cooling of the earth, the gov just useing it to scare poeple to go green and jacking up oil prices. The carbon we have put in the air may of speed this up but either way its going to happen, nothing we can do but enjoy crude while it last. We should work on green ways but no need to push it like they are.

US Tier Regs do not exceed Euro5, but has a different emphasis. Euro 5 is mainly concerned about Co2, US Tier Regs NoX. Euro 6 will still differ from any proposed upgrading of US Tier Standards. It is nice we cannot agree on one global standard.
They may not have large displacement diesel passenger car engines, but they have plenty of large displacement truck and commercial engines.
Probably the BMW example is where a lot of the 3 Litre Pickups are going to use as a target. Even if they do not get anywhere near that target, they will be pretty capable devices, with lets say 300hp and 450lbs ft of torque.

Diesels wont catch on?

Dont tell the VW dealers that...

@ Mad Mopar - I couldn't agree more!

Why do we let stupid politicians who don't work in an industry make policies that effect them so drastically?
If people truly wanted more efficient, cleaner vehicles, wouldn't we be buying them in droves?

Let's get rid of government influenced capitalism and return the power back to the consumer!

the problem is the fuel. build a compression ignition engine that use kerosene instead of diesel fuel. it lighter meaning less sulfur is in it or less is need to be refine out.

Well, part of the problem with the Diesel is its high operating temperature-forms Nox.But the effiecency is better because the high temps create more expansion of the gases.But 300c is on the right track IMHO-but I'm sure we will have this dicussion till till the last barrel of crude is extracted.(While Exxon continues to have record profits-Hey Feds ,stop giving them our tax Dollars)-Kevin

A lot of folks here don't have any idea what they are talking about. My diesel VW Sprortwagon is considered a mid sized car, hauls four adults with plenty of room for luggage. Does 0-60 in 6 seconds. Top speed at 148mph, yet still gets me 45 - 50 mpg on the new clean diesel sold everyplace. Starts in the winter as quickly as a gasser. Doesn't warm up as fast a gasser though because less heat is lost in the cooling system. Cost for diesel doesn't follow gas prices, but seasonal home heating needs. It was higher than gas during the winter, but is lower than gas today.

Just back from a trip from Detroit to Key West and back visiting friends in Florida. No place did I ever not find fuel when I gt down to a quarter tank. Gas Prices.com users list diesel at stations that do not carry it for points in that game, that might be where the idea it is unavailable comes from. Stinky and smelly no more, in the new diesel fuel sulfur is limited to 15ppm. It takes less refining to create diesel than it does gasoline, and diesel has a 15% better power ratio than gasoline. That is where the higher mileage stats come from. Oil changes are recommended at one year intervals and only use synthetic motor oil. Just a few true facts about diesel from one who owns one. Of course I also own a big Dodge pickup for heavy hauling, but when replacement time comes, the next one will have a Cummins in it.

To the guys who think gasoline technology is more advanced than diesel. Think again.

I recently read an article where BMW is going to produce turbo gas engines that have minimal increase in power, but produce a higher and longer flat torque curve like a turbo diesel to improve the efficiencies of gas engines. Where do you think gas engine injector technology started.

Diesel also packs a bigger punch than gasoline. It is denser, which give you a large BTU advantage (more energy) per gallon.

Where are gas engines running the same fuel pressures to their injectors, the outcome is a more atomised delivery of diesel. A diesel is injected into the combustion chamber much later than gas which improves efficiencies.

In Australia diesels became prevalant after the government offered farmers a rebate on diesel fuel. So all of a sudden diesel light commercial became popular and this fueled an interest in business and flowed onto the private sector. And this acceptance flowed into the car market now.

All the major pickup manufacturers tried offering gas engines in our pickups and most now only offer diesel options because of low sales of gasoline powered trucks.

The new Chev Colorado will be only offered with diesel engines because the previous Izuzu based Colorados V6 gas engines only represented 7% of all sales.

All Ford and Mazda have to do is import into the NA the T6 and BT50 and see the impact they would have on pickup sales. You'll be surprised, you will have people buying trucks that never bought them before.

Sooner or later an OEM will offer a small diesel pickup in NA and the speculation about compact diesel pickups will end. I think it's possible to build one for ~$25K. If VW can deliver diesels in this price range then why can't someone build a diesel pickup for the same price? My guess would be they would sell as well as VW diesels because the really big advantage (other than MPG) is torque, which is great when hauling.

Truly, diesel engines in the small HP range for pick up trucks are ubitiqous around the world, yielding economy of use and substantial performance. Think Hilux, Navara, Amarock. I drive a 2004 Hilux 3L engine. Underpowered (no turbo) but there is a new generation of absolutely capable diesels in the market. Why is Ford Ranger 2012 D not bein sold in the US? The Ranger and the Amarock are revered in Costa Rica where I live.

Relay American living overseas Obama is a treacherous corporate shill who has every intention of delivering all US citizens to total rule by corporations.

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