• 31
Diesels have a tough stigma to overcome. Conventional wisdom – or just preconceived notions – characterize diesel engines as loud, slow and dirty. But even without the subsidies the fuel enjoys in Europe, diesels are starting to make an impact in the U.S. market.

Mercedes-Benz recently rolled the fifth of eight diesel models total planned over the next few years. Meanwhile Audi – based on the success of the A3 TDI (accounting for 53% of A3s sold in the U.S.) and the Q7 TDI (43%) – is planning to launch oil-burning versions of the A6 and A8 in the United States as well.

The difference comes down to improving technology (in the form of more advanced particulate filters that keep the exhaust cleaner) and increased availability of the fuel at the pump: studies found that, in 2007, 52% of gas stations in the United States were offering diesel, compared to 35% a decade earlier. Although Mercedes says it does not see the need to subsidize the purchase of diesel models, BMW – a relative newcomer to the diesel game on these shores – offers big incentives to offset the higher purchase costs of diesel models.

Rapidly advancing sales of diesel cars in the United States could, according to Bloomberg, stand to overshadow those of hybrids, whose sales have been slightly dwindling of late.


Photo copyright ©2010 Drew Phillips / AOL
[Source: Bloomberg]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 31 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am kind of sick of reading the old-school thinking that "diesel engines as loud, slow and dirty" in every single story or article about diesels.

      You guys are just reinforcing old ideas by bringing them up... and honestly, most people don't think of ANYTHING when they think of diesels, at least in the US, because there are so few of them around that the average buyer doesn't even remember that diesels used to be "loud, slow and dirty."

        • 4 Years Ago
        Hey! My Jetta's loud, slow, and dirty, you insensitive clod!
        • 4 Years Ago
        LOL

        Yeah, but what year is it? If its a pre-90s Jetta, its supposed to be all those things. Ones made in this millennium tend to be much better, to the point where many people wouldn't know what kind of fuel the car preferred.
      • 4 Years Ago
      What about an A4 diesel? Or an A3 diesel with Quattro or TT tdi. They can get them in Europe.
      Audi, I'm shopping for a new car now, I want a diesel with quattro....please.
      • 4 Years Ago
      European diesel subsidy? I pay $7.94 for a US gallon of the stuff here in Europe. It's popular because the insane fuel prices mean anyone driving any distance will save a lot at the pump due to diesel's higher fuel mileage.

      I thought the driving characteristics of a modern turbodiesel - 5000 rpm redline, huge torque but low horsepower for the equivalent gas engine - were like the characteristics of the last carb V8s, and that should be used to promote it in the US.

      In everyday driving, only a very powerful gas engine could live with a diesel accelerating between 40 - 80 mph.
      • 4 Years Ago
      52% of gas stations in the USA offer diesel? I have to admit I find that surprising....
        • 4 Years Ago
        In some states the further away from major highways the rarer they become but slowly they are creaping out in suburb town gas stations. Why they are doing it who knows? Maybe seeing a future need or a untapped market in any case more pumps means more possiblity of people buying one knowing they have a choice or three to buy said diesel gas without having to drive out of the way for a fill up.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I know, it sounds too low. I never have problems buying diesel here in the Wild West.
      • 4 Years Ago
      YES! I LOVE THE IDEA OF DIESELS, AND ALL THAT TORQUE YOU GET ON TAP, AS WELL AS STELLAR FUEL ECONOMY. Sorry for all caps. What does really make me just a tiny bit reluctant, is the cost of diesel in the US, but with the amazing fuel economy, I would think it easily outweighs the fuel cost of gasoline, plus we can always just get biodiesel conversion kits. Diesel is win-win.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Its not just the soot, its also the NOx emissions. While SCR systems are effective in reducing NOx its expensive and to be honest... no one likes to carry a tank of urea with them everywhere they drive; especially when there is a spill...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Merc does have SCR if memory serves me right. It does doens't it. I guess back then, other than the poor emissions image and performance thats one of the biggest reasons why it wasn't all that popular, at least in the States.
        • 4 Years Ago
        What I meant was its still a tank of something you wouldn't want to spill in the car somewhere but yes, they do last a while.
        • 4 Years Ago
        VW & Audi use SCR in the larger rigs (Touareg & Q7) and the new Passat will also use it. However, you don't need to carry it around with you. The urea tank is good for 8-10000 miles.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Razgriz

        "What I meant was its still a tank of something you wouldn't want to spill in the car somewhere but yes, they do last a while."

        Wait, you want to spill gasoline, oil, coolant fluid... heck windshield de-icer?

        I understand you point, but Urea/Adblue systems is not really any different than the above situations. I always keep a pint of oil, some coolant fluid, etc in my garage. If I had an SCR system... I would keep the extra emergency bottle in the garage! Otherwise, the system is located outside the passenger compartment... just like oil, gas, coolant, etc.
      • 4 Years Ago
      In the face of higher diesel fuel price, the cost savings of diesel over gas seems marginal at best. Add increased purchase price of diesel models, the uncertain maintenance and reliability of these complicated Euro-diesels in the US and the case for diesel seems anything but clear. This is especially so when there are major economy improvements coming for gasoline ICEs.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Actually, if we start following the 'Euro model' the cost to get into some high-end models will actually be lower by going with an 'entry-level diesel'.

        Nevermind comparing like-sized diesel vs gas engines, the smaller V6 diesel can push around an S-class without feeling asthmatic, whereas the gasser V6 cannot.

        Therefore, anyone wanting to get into an S-class Merc, might be pleased to find the V6 option is a diesel, and perfectly adequate for pulling that boat around.

        Same thing with the A8. I imagine they'll offer the 3.0 TDI in their flagship. And BMW with the 3.0 in the 7-series.
        • 4 Years Ago
        in Europe diesels are more reliable and more durable than petrol engines. but i guess the US diesel fuel might create problems.
      • 4 Years Ago
      A1 Diesel Quattro please! (In the US!)
      • 4 Years Ago
      Took a trip to the snow in a friend's BMW Diesel SUV last weekend. No problems starting or anything and the vehicle takes to the high altitudes well.

      But the mpg honestly was not spectacular, it seemed like we got about 20mpg on mostly all highway (about 85%), but including the climb up the mountains. Add in the downhill segment and we probably got 23 or maybe 24 on the whole trip, which isn't bad but is not good enough to start subsidizing these things.

      I'd love to see more SUVs and other cruiser type cars (perhaps Buicks, large Lexuses, etc.) offer more Diesels. Audi not offering a Q5 Diesel makes zero sense to me for example.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I am thinking in percentages. Diesel contains 15-18% more oil in it and we got maybe 20% better fuel economy per gallon (the gasser is rated at 23 hwy) under close to ideal conditions for it (highway, altitude). It's an improvement, that's why I said I'd like to see more SUVs offering Diesel.

        But it's not an improvement worth subsidizing, it's a tiny improvement.
        • 4 Years Ago
        That's probably 30% better than the gasser. Stop thinking in numbers, think in percentages.
      • 4 Years Ago
      i want a nice diesel wagon. jetta not quite nice enough. either an a4 avant quattro or a 3 series wagon. you'd have practicality, utility, gas efficiency, fun handling and comfort rolled into one.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Good.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Just FYI: modern Diesel engines are in average cleaner, than their petrol HP counterparts. Easy to see by reading the Mercedes-Benz technical data off the German site. Also, they are usually on par with petrols regarding the acceleration figures (in-gear sometimes even better than petrol) - check out the BMW's. Peugeot has excellent low-displacement "HDI" line of Diesel engines, they power the small cars (VW Golf-sized Peugeots 308 or Citroen C4, for example) with 110 - 130 HP, some 200 lbs/ft and ability to drive for about 700 miles on 12 US gallons of fuel.
      Diesel fuel is - technically speaking - not "subsidized" in Europe, it just enjoys taxation at a little less killer rate than petrol. But that doesn't really make any difference for personal use of a car, this lower taxation becomes an important factor when we're talking company cars / trucks.
    • Load More Comments