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You can reap big long-term ownership savings by getting one of these efficient vehicles

Diesel vehicles typically save $2,000 to $6,000 in total ownership costs over three to five years when compared to similar gasoline models.

In its sixth annual analysis, the European Federation for Transport and Environment found that Volvo led all European automakers in CO2 emissions reductions in 2010. The analysis shows that the Swedish automaker reduced its European fleet-wide emissions by nine percent in 2010, while most other automakers slashed their emissions by only two to six percent.

As the number of automakers selling diesel vehicles rise, the amount of motorists buying the oil-burning machines will increase, too, claims Jeff Breneman, executive director of the U.S. Coalition for Advanced Diesel Cars. That statement seems to be simple common sense, right? Well, not so much in recent times here in the U.S.

Through the end of July, sales of diesel vehicles in the United States were up 38.5 percent, compared to the same seven-month period in 2010. Led by the Volkswagen Jetta TDI and Golf TDI, diesel vehicles appear to have escaped the quake-related supply issues that crippled hybrid vehicle sales for months, though they're tally of 8,653 vehicles sold in July still only represents 0.82 percent of the total market.

Sometimes, it's what automakers don't offer in the U.S. that creates a stir – the diesel engine being one prime example. For years, U.S. buyers have been left out in the cold (mostly) while Europeans have had a vast selection of efficient, diesel-powered vehicles to choose from. With fuel prices on the rise, you'd think that automakers would at least consider adding diesel-powered vehicles to their U.S. lineup. Not Ford, though.

Aside from some clean diesel models offered by German automaker Audi and parent company Volkswagen, oil-burning vehicles, in general, have not fared well in the U.S. However, over in France, diesels dominate the market. In January, diesel-fueled models accounted for 70.7 percent of vehicle registrations, while gasoline-burning autos represented a mere 26.3 percent.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class – Click above for high-res image gallery

The U.S., like many other countries across the globe, is pushing for additional legislation aimed at reducing emissions and increasing fuel economy. Some standards take effect in 2016 and stricter regulations may follow soon after. While automakers focus on solving the problem through advanced technologies, a recent study by Hart Energy Consulting suggests that diesel fuel will play a significant role as a future energy source for automobiles.

2011 Honda CR-Z vs. 2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Street Cup Edition – Click above for high-res image gallery

2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Edition – Click above for high-res image gallery

2009 BMW 335d – Click above for high-res gallery

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