• Sep 10th 2010 at 5:03PM
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2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Edition – Click above for high-res image gallery

Last month, the U.S. automotive industry experienced its weakest August sales since 1983. Overall, sales dropped off nearly 21 percent from the numbers recorded during the Cash-for-Clunkers-boosted month of August 2009. In addition, sales of hybrids tanked, dropping by 40.4 percent this August compared a year ago and even the vaunted Toyota Prius couldn't escape the automotive industry's woes.

With the industry suffering, we'd expect sales of clean diesel vehicles to follow suit, but that's simply not the case. Clean diesel vehicles recorded a 52-percent increase in year-over-year sales and experienced a 20-percent boost in sales volume for August as compared to the numbers reported in July. Whereas sales of the Prius fell off by some 37.5 percent, the quintessential clean diesel, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, fared amazingly well with a year-over-year increase of nearly 30 percent. Though year-to-date sales of clean diesel models (48,275 units) still fall well short of hybrids (178,754 units), the gap is slowly shrinking.



Photos by Damon Lavrinc / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

[Source: HybridCars]


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  • 26 Comments
      • 8 Months Ago
      I'm interested in getting feedback in regards to a new product for the pick-up truck and recreational markets. FeatherWeight Design is currently working on a project/prototype that will offer easier use of camper shells on pick-ups plus expanding the versatility. Our second tier product design will save fuel by offering to the recreational market a product that will be lighter than slide-in campers and trailers along with eliminating the issues of storage when not in use.
      • 8 Months Ago
      And yet the next time there is discussion of bringing this or that model diesel to the US, the industry will be saying "americans do not want them" - because that is what somebody told them in 1986.
        • 8 Months Ago

        "And yet the next time there is discussion of bringing this or that model diesel to the US, the industry will be saying "americans do not want them" - because that is what somebody told them in 1986."

        Yep.

        The auto maker that pairs a small diesel with AWD in a hatchback/wagon will make a killing. Same is true for a small diesel in a small pick-up truck... they'd sell like hot cakes and run for decades.

        The major auto makers are willfully ignorant. The vehicles of the future will be built by new/small companies. The big boys deserve to die, and we should let them die - not bail them out.
        • 8 Months Ago
        The diesel Tiguan (with the 170 hp engine!) nearly equivalent fuel economy to my 2006 Jetta wagon TDI with the 100hp diesel. It's ridiculous. I easily get 5L/100km on the highway with my Jetta already, and I could be getting almost that in a slightly more convenient form factor with 4-motion for the snowy winters. If I dialed back to a 140hp 2WD drive model, it would easily beat my car for fuel economy, and it would probably be better on particulate emission as well.

        We're getting totally ripped off here. :(
      • 8 Months Ago
      must we call them 'clean diesels'. that's a dishonest marketing term. why not just diesel. or diseasel.
        • 8 Months Ago
        incrementalism has no merit in a situation that requires an absolute solution. 40mpg is like a mass murderer cutting down 25% on his killing rate. not really good enough.
        we have the technology to do the right thing right now.

        it's not about what I like. it's about what truth likes.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Don't be ridiculous. The energy has to come from somewhere. Economies of scale for electricity are only going to get you so far. Solar isn't as viable as we'd like just yet. Hydro demands a certain geographical configuration, and there's debate as to whether those huge dams are particularly friendly to the environment themselves.

        Get out of your car and onto a bike for more trips; that's the best way to cut back on fuel consumption. Solutions for cars polluting that involve DIFFERENT cars – electric or otherwise – are doomed to failure.

        That said, if you're going to drive a car, drive a good one . A clean diesel is better in many respects than a normal petrol engine.

        But if you're really, actually concerned about energy consumption and the environment, you want to convince people to drive less. That's it. Just drive less.

        (I own 4 bikes and drive my car only a few times a month, and less than 10,000km/yr. When I drive, I choose diesel as a good, efficient, reliable option that bears up in bad winters. I'm doing my part.)
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Sam,
        I'm not sure what your point is.

        * The carbon in plants came from atmospheric CO2. Breathing out CO2 is carbon-neutral until you take into account the significant fossil-fuel inputs to make your food.
        * You're welcome to worry about the pollution and CO2 from food production — eat less meat! — but that's a separate topic from *Auto*blog Green.
        * Westerners are *fat*. They eat more than they need, so moderate bike riding doesn't lead to more CO2. (Unless you're trying to argue that fat people are sequestering carbon, maybe you can get Terrapass or another carbon offset company to pay you not to exercise, die young, and be buried!)
        • 8 Months Ago
        Dan, we get it. If it's not totally electric, you don't like it. For the rest of us, diesel offers reduced petroleum use until other subsitutes become available.

        And frankly, these new diesels are quite clean. I stuck my finger in the exhaust pipe of a Jetta with over 1000 miles and it was clean. Even a gas powered car can't do that. I just took my daughter's Jetta for a road trip, and it was a terriffic experience. Put my gas powered Jetta to shame.

        Yes, the boundless torque of an electric motor would be wonderful. But with current battery technology I could not have even attempted my trip.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Realmonster, you should get a tattoo that says electric cars are doomed to fail
        • 8 Months Ago
        Speaking of energy......
        So do we really think walking or biking is free energy? It seems to come from no where? What about the fuel we consume and burn and the carbon footprint that leaves....
        We burn energy just like a vehicle, this clean diesel when seating five people, and driven carefully can actually be more energy efficient than walking or biking to wherever your going. Walking or running one kilometre requires approximately 70 kcal or 330 kJ of food energy. This equates to about 1 L/100 km or 235 mpg in gasoline energy terms. So if this vehicle uses less than 5 liters per 100 km( i know it can because i've done it) with 5 people inside we're talking this thing is burning less energy than running the same distance.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Americans don't want them. 50k units for a $25k car is pretty bad for companies like Ford, GM, etc. The reason the Jetta TDI sells 50k units is because it's the only game in town. Other major manufacturers don't want to spend a ton of money going after a segment that is only 50-75k cars a year, especially something as expensive as federalizing a new engine and a complex emissions system.

      Most Americans aren't stupid. They see that diesel is 40 cents more a gallon than gas. There is no fuel economy benefit because of the extra cost of diesel over gas, especially since diesel models cost more than gas models. Diesel engines are also more expensive to repair, and offer no reliability gain over gas engines.

      Some people (especially on Autoblog) just look at the MPG difference and think it overcomes all of the price disadvantages. It doesn't, at least not in the US. In the EU, where diesel is cheaper, it does.
        • 8 Months Ago
        When you purport to speak for everyone by saying "Americans don't want them," you're using the bandwagon approach. I interpret your statement to read, "I don't want one." I agree completely with M Powers about a diesel hatchback/wagon being the most useful, practical, and economical configuration of a vehicle for my needs, and the VW Sportwagen TDI is at the top of my list.

        What else would I consider? A diesel Hyundai Touring, a great-looking small wagon which I believe is available in Australia and perhaps Europe with a diesel. If I can't double my mileage with a new car, there's really no point to buying - that means 40 mpg. But I agree with you, too, on the simple economics - a gas Hyundai is rated at 31mpg highway, and it would take about 7 years of my driving to make up the cost differential of a VW TDI at about $7k more, even with some amount of federal tax credit. Don't base your thinking on today's price differential between diesel and gasoline - that has varied in both directions over the past few years and assuming price stability is futile.

        Your statement about diesel longevity is not consistent with user experience - I expect to get 300k miles out of my diesel pickup, which gets twice the mileage of a gas model towing my camper. Yes, it cost more, but I love that torque, and I'll realize more in resale value. I usually keep vehicles until they're 10-11 years old, but I now foresee that in 10 years, some federal cash for clunkers program will force us out of our present vehicles unless they get 40 mpg combined.

        I'd also consider a Ford Transit Connect - if it had a diesel. It's an outstanding design, maybe even for a weekend camper, but the gas model gets mediocre mileage. No diesel? No interest.

        Electrics are not practical for my driving needs, and make no economic sense considering the myriad of tax credits, federal and state grants for infrastructure, and subsidized r&d which are necessary to make them competitive. If you buy an electric, be sure to thank all the other taxpayers who are forced to help pay for your purchase, and add those subsidies into your calculations of operating cost per mile. The same should apply to petroleum, NG, LPG, or hydrogen fuels. No one can make a rational purchase decision any more given the patchwork of government distortions of the market. If the purpose of subsidies is to reduce U.S. dependence on imported fuels (except from Canada), then each alternative should be treated equally in terms of federal and local tax incentives, grants, and research.

        I don't contend that a huge market for diesels exists in the US, but numerous AB commenters like them, and I believe the market is considerably larger than the US manufacturers and the importers estimate.
        • 8 Months Ago
        If there is another oil price hike Fiat/Crysler may be able to clean up in the US.
        Fiat do CNG/petrol dual fuel vehicles and pure CNG at little or no premium to conventional, where GM want a ludicrous $15k premium on their CNG van.
        I reckon they would put in pumps pretty darn quick, in spite of all the likes of GM can do to obstruct, and then fuel prices are halved or bettter.
        On a long journey, no problem , switch to petrol on a dual fuel and fill up more often.
        There are 400,000 in Italy.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Interesting perspectives, but no one is talking about futures in this discussion. There is gasoline at the US pumps today - might even be gasoline by 2012, but by 2014, there will be long lines and angry people. Dan and other EV supporters are in denial. I fully expect that the DoD will issue a National Security Directive within the next year to open rare earth mineral mines in the US to the protests of the EPA and environmentalists. Those minerals will not be used for EV's and Hybrids and China is not sharing anymore so EV's and Hybrids have no large scale production future.

        Biodiesel from 2nd generation feedstocks is our best sustainable, environmentally responsible and economically viable solution so we need to get as many diesel powered vehicles on the road ASAP.

        Your comment about the price of diesel needs to be reconsidered. Virtually every advanced diesel engine car, SUV and truck also offers a gasoline equivalent engine option (same make, same model, same options other than engine). The advanced diesel engine version will get 30%-40% better MPG than the gasoline engine version. If the price of gasoline is $3.00 gallon (as it is currently), then the equivalent cost of diesel to drive the same distance would be in the range of $3.90 to $4.20 gallon. Yet, diesel fuel is typically within +/- 5% of the cost of 87 octane regular gasoline.

        Also, a diesel engined car typically will last over 300K miles with scheduled maintenance. The data is solid - if the vehicle owner is willing to go long term - over 200K miles - the diesel solution is in the range of 50% less expensive than gasoline, 66% less expensive than a hybrid and 75% less expensive than an EV.

        etcgreen.com Article: Are you driving your last gasoline powered car?
        • 8 Months Ago
        Diesel is a couple of cents cheaper than regular where I live.
      • 8 Months Ago
      '' auto industry's slumping trend ''

      Im personnally responsable for that situation, it's because of me that normal regular customers leave this out-dated market, mainly the ice market. I proved and demonstrated that it's mainly and solelly a petrol ( mud ) market and not a car market.

      Im shopping for a hydrogen fliying car, nothing else will be accepted. Hydrogen serve as a renewable, fuel and lifting stuff like the hindenburg. Chriss m have opposed this from the start but his heresy, remember the asking price for him was 1 millions dollars LOL with fuel price that you get less energy that you putted in, LOL. Im not paying for political stuff. Just the car will be payed, the hydrogen come from the hydrogen and go back with more energy to hydrogen but it's probably not the exact same atoms that recombine with some other similar atoms but not the same exactly. It take a microscope to see this and at slow-mo, if not then strait theory can do or a car putted on sale for cash near somewhere.
      • 8 Months Ago
      The main issue is that the current diesel offerings in the US represent those from the "elite" and "premium" brands aka European brands. Most Americans simply don't bother to walk into any Mercedes, BMW, VW and Audi dealers since they assume they can't afford these cars and the showrooms are just full of rich people (true there are a lot of rich folks in those places but the VW TDIs are actually very affordable).

      Dare I say, some of the anti clean diesel comments here are on the level of jealousy with immense hatred. Maybe you got burned with your mark IV Golf and you've decided to condemn VW for the rest of your live.

      Specifically for new VW TDI (Golf and Jetta)

      - It is cleaner than most gasoline cars sold on the market right now.
      - Real life FE is 50 mpg on highway (this is US gallon). How many modern diesel or gas cars sold in the US today can get 700 miles range on 13-14 gallons of fuel, fully loaded on highway? not much.
      - FE in city depends on how good you are at conserving momentum and how bad the traffics are, but 35 mpg is a good average for me (this is US gallon). Turning off your engine at stops and rolling in gear helps.
      - Here in Canada ever since November of 2009 when I pick up my TDI, premium diesel fuel has been cheaper than regular gasoline (Shell Canada has a two grades street legal ULSD). Down in WA state, diesel fuel is either equal or at worse no more than 20-30 cents higher than regular gas.
      - Low engine rpm on highway, about 1500-1600 rpm in top gear when you drive legal speed, the car is very very quiet.
      - Excellent mid range acceleration on all new TDIs. It is not a BMW M3, but better than all economy cars and as good as many cars with 3 liter plus NA engine. You can really feel the torque pulling once the turbo kicks in (yes, there is turbo lag below 1500 rpm).
      - Towing capacity of a small truck equipped with the right Euro tow hook (check towing capability of TDI on VW UK site, yes, it is in English).
      - Un-Toyota like cornering (aka BMW and Infiniti like cornering). This is a driver's car, huge fun.
      - Immense and violent wheel spins in wet IF you turn off the traction control. Not recommended but this tells you how powerful the engine is.
      - Tons of aftermarket customization products designed for VW from wheels, body kits and suspension upgrade.

      The only bad thing I can think of for the new clean diesel TDI is if the driver is stupid enough to put gas into the diesel fuel tank (your fault) OR unlucky enough to filled up at a station with garbage diesel fuel (not your fault) OR did not read owner's manual and filled up with just anything eg. home made biodiesel (your fault), this can result into expensive repair (fuel system damage, engine stalls, car becomes undrivable).

      Overall, these new VW Golf/Jetta TDI is a top quality world class product, the whole world market is endorsing this engine. If you are still jealous to see the growing achievement of German clean diesel in America, don't worry, soon Mazda will bring in their diesel cars into the US market. If for some reasons, you don't like German clean diesel, you can buy Japanese clean diesel from Mazda within 2 years.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Rats, this comment was supposed to be under my last one, answering Expert. Annoying comment system!
      • 8 Months Ago
      I dunno, I still think this is the lemmings effect. Stupid creatures in large quantities. Diesel isn't cheaper than gasoline where I lvie. And I've yet to see a diesel that gets good economy and passes emissions. Nevertheless one that sells in the mainstream bracket.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Virtually every advanced diesel engine car, SUV and truck also offers a gasoline equivalent engine option (same make, same model, same options other than engine). The advanced diesel engine version will get 30%-40% better MPG than the gasoline engine version. If the price of gasoline is $3.00 gallon (as it is currently), then the equivalent cost of diesel to drive the same distance would be in the range of $3.90 to $4.20 gallon. Yet diesel fuel is typically within +/- 5% of the cost of 87 octane regular gasoline. That makes it 25% cheaper than gasoline today and in a few years it will be as much as 50% cheaper than gasoline when the reduced production price of biodiesel is considered.

        etcgreen.com Article: Are you driving your last gasoline powered car?
      • 8 Months Ago
      AMERICAN CONSUMERS WANT CLEAN DIESEL!! It has always been noted that way and yet the US auto industry fights them at every step! Now they will start making them since there is a demand.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Dan and Expert. Why don't you pick on all the SUV and large pick-up truck owners. There are millions more of them than the few diesel cars that actually make it here. THOSE ARE YOUR ENEMIES! Not the Jetta TDI that gets 42mpg and emits much less emissions than the trucks and SUV's. Get real! You sound like a bunch of whining idiots! I traded in my SUV and now use my 40mpg Beetle TDI to pull a utility trailer and get firewood and haul construction materials and it never complains. You can't do that with an electric vehicle. Learn to pick on the right people. Does this mean that I don't like electric vehicles? No. I am all for them but, it does not fit my needs. Oh and by the way, when diesel was 60 cents more than gas I still could go 180 miles more on a tank than the gas Beetle. 60 cents times a 15 gallon tank means that I went 180 miles more for $9 where as gas at $4 a gallon takes 6.6 gallons of gas to go 180 miles at a cost of $26 ( Based on 27mpg) Compare all that to the SUV a gave up that got 13 to 17 mpg.

      Expert says that Americans don't want diesels? Are you kidding? Most people don't even know about them so you must be basing your opinion on that which is kind of ignorant. Or you might argue that VW, Audi, BMW, Mercedes, and soon Porsche have them but, these are premium cars and most can't afford them it's not that people don't want them. When I worked as a VW, BMW, Audi, Porches sales people would walk in and ask "Do you have any diesels?" My answer was no we are out and they would turn around and walk out complaining, "That means I have to buy a Toyota!"
        • 8 Months Ago
        You're vastly overstating the capabilities of diesel. Diesel trucks in the US make sense, because of how much more torque you get out of a turbo diesel compared to a normal gas engine. If you're hauling or towing a large load, it makes all the difference.

        But saying people want to buy a car that's at least a $4000 premium to use fuel that will give them about 5 mpg more than a comparable gas engine (don't use the TDI for this comparison, since VW's gas engine is low tech and gets horrible fuel economy for the sole purpose of pushing people into the higher priced TDI) and they pay .40-.60 cents a gallon more. Only idiots would take such a bargain. I understand that people buying a VW take it because VW's gas engines are garbage compared to the competition.

        People latch on to diesel because it's so popular in Europe, but in the EU it's a completely different situation.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Buying a diesel is not a $4000 premium. While the Jetta TDI does cost more than a base Jetta gas, it includes many things that are optional on the base model. Yes, that's one way they improve their margin on the car. So what? Sure, there are people that would prefer the base model with the diesel, but as for myself, I want the extras anyway. With VW, the diesel "premium" is closer to $2000, which is more than made up at resale time.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Also, VW gas engines are not "low tech", although they don't sell their direct injection in this country. My 06 Jetta with the 2.5 will get low to mid 30s on the freeway, which is in line with other brands models of similar size. It's a very enjoyable engine.

      I just took my daughter's 09 TDI for a road trip, and got almost 45mpg for the trip, including some significant mountain pass climbing. Not to mention the TDI was a blast to drive with the loads of torque. Talk about effortless crusing!

      Here in Washington state, diesel is right around the same price as premium petrol. On my road trip to Oregon, I saw it in many places for the same or less than regular.

      One other thing about the diesel "premium" The BMW 335d is about $3500 more than the 335i, so yes, on a premium car the premium is higher. If you look at car prices in Europe, many times the diesel costs less. It is some of the rediculous requirements in this country that runs the cost up. No, I don't want all smog controls removed. It's just some requirements are over the top.
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