Even though Dieter Zetsche is making a big push to introduce modern diesels to the American consumer, and even though George W. himself is behind a U.S. government initiative to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil, fuel-efficient diesels are facing a tough fight to win the hearts and minds of the American consumer.

While half of all new cars sold in Europe are diesel, and modern common-rail diesels are both clean and fuel efficient, the U.S. car buyer still thinks of diesels as dirty, noisy, underpowered and unreliable. And ever-quotable Bob Lutz says it's GM's fault. "we did some diesel engines about 20 years ago that were an absolute disgrace, and the American public has never forgotten it."

Regulatory issues abound, as well, particularly tough nitrogen oxide standards, which are a challenge for hotter-running diesel engines.

But Zetsche and other auto industry execs are confident that the advantages of new generation diesels like Mercedes "BlueTec" are so compelling that in five to ten years they will outsell hybrids. European carmakers can hardly wait.

[photo courtesy of DaimlerChrysler}

Share This Photo X