It's cheaper to drive a diesel-powered vehicle than a gas-powered vehicle over the course of three to five years, according to a new study commissioned by Robert Bosch LLC – a company that makes plenty of diesel engine parts – using data compiled by The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. The savings stem not just from improved fuel efficiency but also overall fuel costs and better retention of value, and take into account the added purchase price of a diesel engine over its gasoline counterpart.

According to the study, "most of the savings are in the $2000 to $6000 range." The highest return on investment comes from the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class. Buyers of a diesel GL will save a shocking $13,514 over the course of three years and $15,619 in five. Another star performer is the Volkswagen Golf TDI, which can save its owner more than $5,000 over three years. The full study can be found in PDF form at this link, and a press release with a summary of some of its findings can be seen below.
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New Study Finds U.S. Diesel Vehicles Have Lower Total Cost of Ownership Than Gasoline Vehicles

Diesels Generally Save Owners $2,000 to $6,000 Over Three to Five Years of Ownership

Washington, D.C. – A new study released today found that diesel vehicles saved owners between $2,000 to $6,000 in total ownership costs during a three to five year period when compared to similar gasoline vehicles, according to data compiled by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

The University of Michigan study - Total Cost of Ownership: A Gas Versus Diesel Comparison - was conducted for Robert Bosch LLC and the results were released today at the 2013 Alternative Clean Transportation Expo in Washington D.C.

"Overall, the results of our analyses show that diesel vehicles provide owners with a TCO (total cost of ownership) that is less than that of the gas versions of the same vehicles," according to the study. "The estimates of savings for three and five years of ownership vary from a low of $67 in three years to a high of $15,619 in five years, but most of the savings are in the $2,000 to $6,000 range, which also include the extra cost that is usually added to the diesel version of a vehicle."

New Study Reinforces Benefits of Clean Diesel Vehicles

"These new findings that clean diesel vehicles are a more cost-effective investment for car owners reinforces what auto analysts and other comparative studies have determined in recent years," said Allen Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum. "The significant savings diesel owners experience compared to gas car owners highlights another major reason why clean diesel vehicles sales will increase significantly throughout the U.S. in the coming years.

"Fuel efficiency has always been a major attraction of clean diesel vehicles. Because diesels are 20 to 40 more fuel efficient than gas cars, drivers save money with diesels even when diesel fuel prices are slightly higher than gas prices.

"The findings in this study will also be helpful to car buyers as they research their next vehicle purchase. This is an exciting time for diesel vehicles as the number of diesels is expected to more than double in the next two years. This will give drivers a broad selection of vehicles to fit their individual driving needs.

"In addition, as the U.S. moves to the increase fuel standards of 54.5 mpg by 2025, drivers will become more aware of the advantages diesels have over other vehicles in many important areas."

Clean Diesels Have Better Fuel Efficiency & Lower Depreciation Than Gas Vehicles

Highlights from the diesel-gasoline comparisons include:

- Total Cost of Ownership: In the three year timeframe comparison, diesel vehicles in the mass market passenger car segment are estimated to save owners significant money, with the VW Jetta owner saving $3,128, the VW Jetta Sportwagen owner saving $3,389, and the VW Golf owner saving an estimated $5,013.

- In the luxury segment, all the diesel versions of the Mercedes-Benz E Class ($4,175), Mercedes-Benz GL Class ($13,514), Mercedes-Benz M Class ($3,063), Mercedes-Benz R Class ($5,951) and VW Touareg ($7,819) save owners money in the three year timeframe.

- Fuel Efficiency: All of the diesel vehicles had better miles per gallon than the gasoline versions with the diesels having between 8 to 44 percent higher miles per gallon.

- Fuel Costs: All of the diesel vehicles had lower fuel costs than all the gas versions of comparable vehicles, with 11 of the 12 vehicles showing double digit reductions in fuel costs, ranging from 10 to 29 percent.

- Similar to the three year comparisons, five year estimated fuel costs for diesel vehicles are less than those of comparable gas versions. The percentage difference in terms of the reduction from gas to diesel costs decreased for some diesel-gas comparisons as diesel prices began to increase around the 2005 timeframe.

- Depreciation: Eleven of the 12 diesel vehicles held their value better than comparable gas vehicles over the three year timeframe with eight vehicles showing double digit percentage savings ranging from 17 percent up to 46 percent.

- Nine of the 10 diesel vehicles hold their value better than comparable gas vehicles over the five year timeframe, with five vehicles showing double digit percentage savings ranging from 10 percent up to 39 percent.

The report analyzed the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for clean diesel vehicles and comparing their TCO to their gas vehicle counterparts. The study developed three and five year cost estimates of depreciation by modeling used vehicle auction data and fuel costs by modeling government data. The study also combined these estimates with three and five year estimates for repairs, fees and taxes, insurance, and maintenance from an outside data source.

Connect with DTF

How do you keep up with the news on clean diesel? You can be a fan of DTF's Facebook page, follow us on Twitter @DieselTechForum, or subscribe to our YouTube channel @DieselTechForum. You can also subscribe to Diesel Direct, a monthly publication featuring the latest clean diesel news and activities of the Diesel Technology Forum by emailing dtf@dieselforum.org.

ABOUT THE DIESEL TECHNOLOGY FORUM

The Diesel Technology Forum is a non-profit national organization dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of diesel engines, fuel and technology. Forum members are leaders in clean diesel technology and represent the three key elements of the modern clean-diesel system: advanced engines, vehicles and equipment, cleaner diesel fuel and emissions-control systems. For more information visit www.dieselforum.org.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 191 Comments
      MattA
      • 1 Year Ago
      I have a 2001 VW Golf TDI that I purchased new in 2001. It currently has 280K miles on it. It's been extremely reliable, and I would say that the total cost of ownership has been significantly lower than a similar gasoline powered car. A few years ago I figured I had saved about $5K over the life of the car. Not only did this pay for the option for the engine, but it also paid for all maintenance I've ever done to it with money left over. Lifetime mileage has been around 43-45mpg. Lowest ever was 39 in a blizzard. Highest was just shy of 50mpg. Engine problems have consisted of a dead alternator at 240K miles. I've replaced the timing belt 3 times and put in a clutch. Other maintenance over that time has been things like struts, tires, brakes, etc. Normal stuff that would happen on any car. When I decide to get rid of this car, I will happily go get another one just like it. By the way, people are regularly beating the EPA-estimated mileage figures on the sticker. I think the way they are tested favors gasoline cars but doesn't favor diesels. Remember, they are going to do much better on the freeway than in stop and go. And the best part: I can sell this thing for $4-5K even now. That's amazing.
        Captain Stu
        • 1 Year Ago
        @MattA
        That sounds like an attractive situation. But how much autism causing soot have you put out since new? http://m.green.autoblog.com/2013/06/23/diesel-particulates-other-air-pollutants-linked-to-autism-in-ch/
          wxman
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Captain Stu
          There are actually several studies/demonstrations that show that current diesel engine technology exhaust has less particulates than ambient air; they're serving as air filters (http://www.dieselnet.com/papers/0209czerwinski/, http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/pdfs/deer_2003/session9/2003_deer_storey.pdf, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wm3i6YQOKKc, @3:32-3:58 mark). If diesel particulates are associate with autism in children, it's from older technology diesel engines, not current technology (i.e., since 2007).
          MattA
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Captain Stu
          Actually, I've put out far fewer greenhouse gasses than the comparible gasoline counterpart. As for soot, as diesels improve, soot becomes a non-issue. My car is 12 times cleaner than my diesel Rabbit from 1981 was. The new ones are many times cleaner than my Golf. And they only get better with time. How much damaging crap has your gasoline car put into the air? How many particulates come out of a gasoline motor that no one thinks about because it's invisible? If it's invisible, surely it isn't there! Remember, there is no 'correct' engine situation. All cars put out pollutants, no matter what they are. Diesels emit soot, gasoline cars emit all sorts of nasty things (just because you can't see it doesn't mean it isn't there, it just means it's harder for your lungs to filter out), electric vehicles use power plants to charge putting a strain on electricity infrastructure, etc. Battery materials also have to be mined (horrible for ecosystems), Natural gas has to be taken from the earth in horrible ways, etc etc, I could go on. Being human is hard on the ecosystem. The point is, you try to use LESS resources. Diesels use LESS resources than gasoline cars while returning more energy. More energy from less resources is a good thing. I've never owned a car that got less than 40 mpg. I've also never had a car that had over 100 hp. I'm no eco-nut, but at the same time, I understand that using less is better. You cannot tell me that my little 90hp Golf is causing some kid to have autism. That's preposterous. Stop being a diesel hater, get educated properly that alternative vehicles are a good thing, and quit adding to the problem.
          montoym
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Captain Stu
          Not to mention that the particulate causing portion of the diesel combustion process is direct injection. The same technology that many gasoline cars are now using to improve their efficiency. It's been proven that particulates from gasoline are actually even more harmful, but since the particulates are smaller and not as visible, fewer people are concerned at the moment. Then there's the fact that modern diesels have filter to capture the particulates while gasoline vehicles do not yet have to have them. As DI spreads across the industry, it's only a matter of time.
      Dr. Cain
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why are these article always about 5 years behind common sense. Hybrids are great and so are diesel engines. There is a lot more time and energy spent making, manufacturing and disposing of batteries then there is in refining petro to diesel however. Both are better then traditional gasoline engines. Second nod for diesels is longevity - I have known, seen and driven diesel engines w/ more than 500k miles, gas just doesn't hold up under stressed, high mileage conditions and neither will electric and batteries. However, a diesel hybrid would be a great ticket but the weight of the engine would lend to less battery life.
        EVSUPERHERO
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dr. Cain
        Batteries will last at least 10 years in the car and another 10 years on the grid being used to capture clean energy. Compared to EV's a diesel is a total money pit. You will save 1k dollars for every 10k mile you go in a EV, over gas or diesel and that is when gas is 3.50 per gallon.
          EVSUPERHERO
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVSUPERHERO
          Juststeve wth are you talking about. I am saving more than 1k dollars per 10,000 miles with gas at 3.50 dollars per gallon over a regular Yaris with my EV Yaris. I leave making up the facts for the gasser boys who seem to love throwing away 3 out of every 4 dollars they buy of 4 dollar per gallon gas. Your ICE is only 25 percent efficient so only one dollar of the four propels you forward. The rest is wasted and the auto and oil corps love you for seeking no alternative to this waste.
          juststeve35
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVSUPERHERO
          You like to make up your own facts, eh?
          EVSUPERHERO
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVSUPERHERO
          Just towed a vehicle with it yesterday. It is easier to tow with a EV as well. Thank you for asking.
          HAT1701D
          • 1 Year Ago
          @EVSUPERHERO
          Try towing with a battery powered vehicle any distance. Then get back with me on how that goes for you.
        crabbo71
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dr. Cain
        a small 2 cylinder diesel will charge a battery operated car,,so you can discount the weight....i couldn't really understand why hybrids did not come with a diesel anyway,,,just makes sense !!!!
          montoym
          • 1 Year Ago
          @crabbo71
          Cost primarily. Then there's the fact that diesels don't like to be started and stopped all the time and the start-stop technology is a big part of the hybrid architecture. While there are some diesel hybrids out there, they are not common and there are reasons for that.
      Andrew TheBoss
      • 1 Year Ago
      In Italy we are moving to the next step. Methane (Metano) and LPG. A Lancia Y with the multiair turbo 85CV costs only 10€ for 250/270Km. For a comparison the same engine and gas 30€, and 20€ for the common rail diesel 105CV. Ah, methane is not correlated to oil price. Now almost 30% of new cars are bifuel (like my v70 bifuel LPG).
      wxman
      • 1 Year Ago
      This study essentially validates data from Consumer Reports, who as far as I know, doesn't have a pro-diesel bias (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/01/hybrids-diesels-do-they-save-money/index.htm). In general, diesels have a lower TCO than the corresponding gasoline versions, even taking the higher purchase price, higher cost of fuel, and higher maintenance costs into account.
      Kent
      • 1 Year Ago
      A friend of mine replaced a Saab (can't remember which model) with a 2010 Jetta TDI. Even though the Saab got good mileage, the Jetta has been much less expensive to drive, because it uses far less fuel. And the Jetta has needed far fewer trips to the dealer than the Saab. Of course, my friend attributes that to the fact that his Saab wasn't a Saab, but rather, a Swedish GM, with all of the problems that the General put into Chevys, Bucks, and Cadillacs.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Kent
        [blocked]
      Davey Hiltz
      • 1 Month Ago

      It's true that diesel fuel gets better gas milage than regular fuel. I've run both normal and diesel trucks and they both have their advantages. Diesel though, would be a good alternative as it's a renewable energy source. 

      http://www.nelsonpetroleum.com/cfnsites.html 

      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Year Ago
      A new study by the Tobacco industry is also saying that cigarettes aren't addictive..
      horsedrag
      • 1 Year Ago
      The government should mandate diesel use and forget about all the pie in the sky new fangled ideas that didn't work 100 years ago, (electric, hydrogen, or some combination of hybrids.) Diesel is clean, efficient, and durable. Do we really want to fuel our vehicles from our mountain tops?
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @horsedrag
        That is the dumbest thing I've read. All that would do is send the price of diesel to the sky and crash the price of gasoline. Think about it.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @horsedrag
        Oh man, you should be a comedian!
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        Oh, it's not just German big corps that are guilty... unless you are on an organic diet, you are eating food designed by the same company that produced agent orange, PCBs, and all sorts of other persistant toxins floating around in our food/water/soil. These big corps in all countries end up getting their arms twisted by government to produce weapons of all sort. The consequences of not complying with government's lust to create moon-high stacks of dead bodies are brutal. You should be against Germany's government of that time, not Bosch ;(
      Matt
      • 1 Year Ago
      "better retention of value" That's the part of diesel ownership everyone always neglects. Used TDIs command an outrageous premium in the used market, totally cancelling the initial cost of the diesel option. The same is true for HD diesels in pickups, and will be true of the light duty diesel Ram is putting in the 1500. You can't give away a gas Golf with 100k miles, but a diesel golf with 100k will sell in a minute.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Matt
        Well let's be honest... a gasoline Golf has a crappy gas engine. A diesel Golf has a pretty good diesel engine. It's not a truly fair comparison.
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          No, that's not what i mean. It's a comparison of a very outdated and inefficient gasoline engine versus a very advanced diesel engine. You could go the other way around and compare a 1970's diesel car to a car to a newer car with direct injection, turbo, and variable valve timing.. you'd notice that the gas car would get better mpg and maybe even have more torque. It's not a fair comparison.
        Greg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Matt
        But it's likely that if more diesel options hit the road, that retained value will decrease to similar levels as gasoline cars.
          Matt
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Greg
          Hybrids have similar sales compared to diesels, and they have crap resale values. So scarcity and efficiency alone obviously don't improve resale value. Diesels always have and always will have high resale value.
      AWD Terror
      • 1 Year Ago
      Man! there is just so much ignorance on display here! Fact 1: Todays Diesels emit lesser CO2 and other pollutants than their gasoline counterparts while offering better efficiency. You cannot even get the classic Diesel smell on modern Urea injection equipped vehicles. Fact 2: Diesel particulates are a thing of the past. DPF (Diesel Particulate Filters) are mandatory on all Diesel vehicles sold in the US. During the DPF regen cycle, extra Diesel is sprayed into the exhaust stream which burns at the DPF to release all soot clogging the DPF through the exhaust. Despite what the visual might suggest, this expelled soot is not poisonous and many people who see it assume its just pollution. But we all know what they say about "assuming", don't we? Fact 2: Modern Diesels are friggin expensive to repair depending on the nature of failure. No thanks to Bosch which released a whole bunch of HPFPs and common rail fuel system components that are simply not capable of operating on the shitty US grade Diesel. Each Piezo injector ranges in cost from a whopping $500 to $1000. A HPFP grenading can mess up the fuel system downstream and cause damage to other expensive fuel system components, if not cause a blown engine. Fact 3: Although a Diesel's initial cost is more, it makes up for that difference, and then some, at the time of re-sale. However, I do not believe they are still only meant for savvy owners who are willing to work to keep their Diesel in perfect running condition. Negligence can prove extremely expensive in the case of a Diesel ownership. The older Diesels did not have this problem, but they polluted like crazy and did not have a whole bunch of added systems that could fail. Having said all that, I have high hopes for the Mazda Diesel engine to make its way here. If all they are stating turns out to be true, it could be a turning point for Mazda in the US.
        Jerry
        • 1 Year Ago
        @AWD Terror
        Dude, the Bosch fuel injection systems are not failing because of bad US diesel quality. DENSO makes higher pressure common rail systems that do not fail. Bosch might blame US fuel, but the root cause is really just that Bosch makes shitty products. You pay a premium for the "Made in Germany" sticker, but you are often buying an inferior product to those made by DENSO, Delphi, Federal Mogul, etc. some of the highest warranty items in the diesel world are components in the Bosch DPF and DEF systems. This is regardless of automaker. Bosch is Bosch's biggest problem. If you are looking at a truck or piece of equipment with a Bosch emissions system, do yourself a favor and cross shop an alternative with a Tenneco system. You will be much happier in the long run.
          Matt
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Jerry
          What U.S. diesel passenger car is available with a non-Bosch fuel system?
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @AWD Terror
        Thanks for bringing the intelligence level up.. :)
        Old Dude
        • 1 Year Ago
        @AWD Terror
        TRUTH! But I'm not going to get my hopes up for any manufacture's diesel engines anytime soon. Mazda Skyactiv-D engines have already been seeing issues with oil dilution from unburned diesel fuel. http://news.drive.com.au/drive/motor-news/backlash-over-mazda-cx5-diesel-oil-issues-20120821-24k6w.html
      ncaok
      • 1 Year Ago
      They still stink out of tailpipe regradless.
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