Some rough, back of the napkin calculations based on available information suggest that the Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel has a break-even point fit for Methuselah
Rather than blindly buy into the “rah-rah Europe” hype that surrounds so much of the diesel discourse, we decided to analyze just what kind of cost savings can be had by picking the diesel over an equivalent Cruze 2LT with the 1.4L Ecotec turbo engine. For argument’s sake, we used TrueCar’s formula of driving 15,000 miles per year, though we used Chicago, IL as our sample for gas and diesel prices. The lowest prices found on GasBuddy was $3.50 for regular and $3.80 for diesel respectively.
Since city and combined figures haven’t been announced yet for the Cruze diesel, I decided to only use the highway figures for a similarly equipped 2LT . As the calculations show, the Cruze diesel does use a smaller quantity of fuel annually, but that’s offset by the price premium one is required to pay for diesel. The significant delta in the MSRP of the two vehicles is another blow against the oil-burning Cruze. With a mere $22 in annual fuel savings and a $2,550 price gap, it would take over a century -roughly 115 years – for a potential owner to “break even” on the Cruze diesel.
GM has only released the highway mpg figure (42 mpg) so far. But even if one repeats the exercise using the Jetta TDI’s fuel economy numbers (30/42/34 mpg) for the Cruze diesel, it would still take roughly a decade to break even and save about $255 annually over a gasoline Cruze. Green cars aren’t necessarily about the financial proposition (see: Toyota Prius for the best example), but the Cruze diesel is attempting to lure away extremely loyal buyers in a niche segment with very low opportunities for “green status signalling” (i.e. letting everyone know you’re saving baby polar bears via your consumption choices, ala the Prius). In light of all this, it seems that the Cruze Diesel is facing a dim future of slow sales and plenty of cash on the hood to help move them.
Edit: The data is in the photo gallery below, but commenter redav created this chart as well showing the cost-per-mile breakdown.