Just the other day, Volkswagen revealed that it is having little trouble selling diesel versions of the Jetta here in the United States. Fellow German automakers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz, however, apparently aren't finding the oil-burning road quite so easy to traverse. A new study by PACE might have some answers as to why. It seems that only 35% of those surveyed are willing to consider today's latest clean diesel powerplants, and that figure is made up mostly of expensive luxury car and full-size pickup truck owners. Why? We'd say it's mostly a perception problem.
According to Bryan Krulikowski, the man who authored the PACE study, "While the perceptions of diesel have changed for the better, consideration of clean diesel vehicles is hampered by the high cost of diesel fuel compared to gasoline." Further, "some consumers recall diesels of the past and have not yet experienced or accepted the improved diesel technology available today," he said. As a final nail in the consumer consideration coffin, many new car buyers aren't yet convinced that exhaust aftertreatment systems that rely on urea will be a foolproof way to control emissions.
From where we sit, that's something of a shame. As we've found in our own tests of modern vehicles like the Jetta TDI and BMW 335d, the diesel engine has completely shed its old rough-idling, smoky and stinky ways in favor of smooth running, plateau-like torque curves and class-leading fuel efficiency.