• Apr 15, 2009
2009 BMW 335d – Click above for high-res gallery

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.




[Source: The Detroit Bureau]


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  • 74 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      There is a 90 percent change of me buying a Subaru Impreza 2.0D 5 door 6-speed MT if I could right this minute.

      There is a 50 percent chance that I'll buy a VW Golf TDI (GTD, please) in the next year and a half if the Impreza 2.0D doesn't materialize.

      Is that clear enough for the marketing droids from Subaru and VW.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You're not the only one out there thinking this way. I'm looking for an Impreza 6mt with the diesel boxer or the GTD.

        Third on the list would be an Audi A3 tdi with quattro. Since Audi isn't bringing quattro to the tdi A3, it's disqualified. It took Audi year to bring the quattro to the 2.0t A3, and now they make us wait for a diesel quattro, awesome.
      • 5 Years Ago
      When people were being stupid about gas here in Georgia last fall, I still saw diesel most places (I imagine ethanol was available too, but I wonder how many soccer moms with flex-fuel Caravans and Durangos thought about it :) ). That alone was pretty compelling. I would have gladly bought a Wrangler with the 2.8 or 3.0 CRD, and I am considering a GTD for a commuter if I ever have such a long drive that I get tired of 14mpg.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm with you, I love articles like this, and don’t give a damn really. Johnny Q Public isn’t into cars, so these results aren’t surprising. The only reason I own a pair of hybrids is because VW had no TDIs on the market when I replaced my Jetta and Passat. Thankfully the Q5 and A5 TDIs should be around next year when the less then engaging driving characteristics of the Toyotas finally necessitate a change to something even more fugal on the highway an more fun.
        • 5 Years Ago
        What kind of auto enthusiast has a Jetta/Passat ;p

        Woohoo, bland FWD ecoboxes! Epic!
        • 5 Years Ago
        I like the Jetta TDI (wagons especially). I had a 96-ish Jetta and it had all kinds of problems with the electric and AC. In your ownership time, was there any major issues with the VW quality?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'd love to buy a diesel for my next car, but I'm still waiting for a new diesel that's available in the US that I really want to buy. I've got an '87 300D turbo, which I love-in fact, it's in line to get a rebuilt IP, an air-water intercooler and a bigass turbo-and I'd be quite happy to replace the STI with a new diesel, but there's absolutely nothing out there that I really want.

      The 335D is too slow and lacks a manual gearbox, the E400CDI isn't sold in the US-and while it's also slow and missing a clutch pedal, I could probably overlook it just because I like the car more than I like the 335-and Mercedes won't build a C400CDI, which is what I'd really be interested in. So I'm SOL.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The study seems quite suspect. I can see luxury car drivers not particularly interested in diesels. It's a very fickle market where names and badges are paramount. It's a great place to showcase new technology, but diesel is not considered particularly new-- I question why they chose upmarket cars to "test the waters" with diesels. Mainstream efficient commuter cars cars (like the VW TDI), or niche cars (Mini D) would seem a better place to restart diesel sales. I'd even argue the BMW 123d as a more "efficient performance" model would be a better place to dip their toes than the more stately 335d, but that may just be because I want one :)

      The diesel perception is changing, the VW TDI has already changed plenty of minds for mainstream buyers, and I'm sure the 335d will do the same *some* luxury buyers. It will take some time, but the momentum will grow.

      Mentioning the survey includes full size pickup buyers baffles me. I won't say that diesel is good for every full size pickup application, but I'd expect most folks looking for a *work* truck will definitely consider diesel. I didn't read the survey, but from the blurb I suspect it may be the "toy hauler" truck demographic given it is grouped with luxury cars.

      Hopefully we'll see more vehicles running diesel in the future. The VW TDI and 335d are great, but it's a very narrow slice of cars, and not one many folks are going to be looking at when buying their next (myself included). With any luck, the trend will keep gaining momentum.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Take the Mustang Cobra, not only does it cost more than the GT, it gets worse mpg, and requires fuel that is more expense than RUG.

      You pay for the performance and diesel delivers.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'd consider a Domestic diesel.

      F-350's don't count. o_0
      • 5 Years Ago
      Twin Drive - TDI Hybrid is my next car ... great (for the MPG) performance with the right gas milage ... Please BMW get one in your portfolio !!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Right now, I'm considering VW GTI vs. GTD
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have a 2009 TDI Jetta Sportwagon now and certainly wouldn't mind a second diesel.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Americans are so stupid.

      Our inability to recognize diesel as the very good fuel that it is shows how far behind we really are. Rather, we push junk like corn-based ethanol.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Survey so far: over 85% might consider diesel when only ~14% might not.

      Yet only what? 1-3% actually do buy diesel?

      I guess AB is completely out of touch with the people who buy cars.

      I would consider Diesel, but not any of the current or announced models. I would consider a Diesel if:

      It was in the ballpark of $20.
      It used a timing chain.
      It Doesn't require Urea.
      It has very good MPG >35mpg combined.
      Maintenance costs are no higher than gas engines from Japan/NA makers.




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