In the fuel economy and future tech debate, the hybrid vs. diesel vs. hydrogen fuel cells vs. smaller cars and smaller engines always provokes a fair bit of discussion among Autoblog commentators. At this point, no one yet knows what's going to win since nobody knows how the volatile mix of products, timelines, prices, regulations, legislation, state standards, and gas prices will ultimately pan out. Bob Lutz's prediction is that diesels, at least as far as the US is concerned, won't be much of a factor.
His reasoning is simple: "I think customers are going to say, 'Wait a minute. At equal fuel prices I'm paying $4,000 more for this." Unlike many countries in Europe, the US offers no incentive for people to buy diesels. In the States the price of a diesel vehicle is often more than $1,000 higher than that of a gasoline-engined car, and diesel fuel is just as expensive as gas (throughout California and other states, it's slightly more expensive than premium unleaded). In that case, Lutz's opinion is that just about all the customer will glean from an oilburner is a higher car payment.
Lutz sees diesel uptake in the US hovering at about eight-percent. The technology he sees as winning the day: ethanol. It's clean, it's easy to integrate into the refueling infrastructure, and it "doesn't require a change in consumer behavior." (Except for the people in emerging markets who've seen the price of corn skyrocket.) For another take on the fuel economy battle, according to Kelly Blue Book, 40-percent of US new car shoppers think hybrids are the future, with just 17-percent citing flex-fuel.
[Source: The Car Connection]