Diesel Passenger Cars – Time for a U.S. Comeback?
I drove by a discount gas station today and noticed something relatively new: The price of diesel was lower than that of regular gasoline. That’s the way it used to be in the way back machine. That has not been the case in recent years. No one can provide an explanation for this flip-flopping that makes consistent sense to me.
Diesel engines have never really been accepted by U.S. consumers for their passenger vehicles. The traditional complaints have been odor, noise, hard starting in cold weather, and lack of fuel availability in some states. That’s a shame because for a lot of drivers, clean diesel makes more sense than electric or hybrid as a “green” money-saving vehicle option.
Because of our anti-diesel stubborness, we’ve been missing out on a lot of fuel-efficient vehicles that the Europeans have. As just one example, in 2007 Ford introduced a diesel version of its Fiesta – the ECOnetic – that sips fuel at an astonishing 65 MPG. This five-passenger sedan is still being sold in Europe but it’s never been available in the U.S. That’s just silly and it’s mostly our fault.
For most of my driving life I have been a diesel hater. With the fuel pricing and mileage data I’m seeing recently, my attitude is changing. Plus, I am not overly excited about the prospect of hauling around (and eventually replacing) a bunch of batteries in my car. Diesel engines are known for having high torque which is good if you need to haul or tow stuff. They are also durable. So bring those clean diesel, high torque, high efficiency vehicles here to the U.S. Give us another chance to like them.
After you are through reading about my hope for diesel engine comebacks, take a look at this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance.
And to you Dads: Happy Father’s Day.