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]

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