By on June 25, 2013
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Hackenberg talks to reporters from SAE Magazine and Fortune …

“It is good for the future of diesel in the USA that  a domestic producer also uses a diesel engine,” said Volkswagen’s R&D Chief Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg today.  “If the volume of diesel engines is increasing, then it makes sense to produce diesel engines in the U.S.A. That would be great for us and the customer,” Hackenberg said.

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… while the social media reporters peruse social media, or food, or nurture their jetlag.

Hackenberg spoke to a group of U.S. bloggers and traditional media reporters today in Wolfsburg.

Chevrolet puts a turbo diesel into a Chevrolet Cruze sold in America. The engine is used by Opel in Europe and is imported just like Volkswagen’s diesel engines.

Around 20 percent  of Volkswagen cars sold in the US already have diesel engines. “With the Jetta Sportwagon, that rate is up to 80 percent.” At those volumes, it is beginning to make sense to buy components from a domestic supplier,” Hackenberg said. He thinks that adoption of diesel technologies by U.S. manufacturers would be positive for all involved.

Hackenberg is about to take the reins of Audi’s R&D. Hackenberg  will also be chief R&D coordinator of the Volkswagen Group.

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20 Comments on “Volkswagen’s Hackenberg Welcomes GM’s Diesel Cars To America...”

  • avatar

    The Higher price of diesel fuel per gallon, the higher cost of diesel cars, the temperature maintenance required to keep diesel from freezing in harsh winters, the psychological obsession with Horsepower and the aversion to anything made by VW will prevent these cars from selling to anything other than upper-middle class females who’d otherwise be driving a Jetta.

    • 0 avatar

      Where I live diesel fuel can be as much as 10 cents a gal more than 91 octane gasoline sometimes only slightly more but never less than 91 octane … This has to factor into the buyers calculation. I understand those who can buy more than 50 or 100 gal at each fill of their large trucks can sometimes get a discount but that is not going to help those filling the tank on a car or even a SUV
      I think the public perception of the high cost of diesel fuel, that is reinforced every time they drive past a station that in most cases displaying on their large high way sign 2 prices the first foe regular gas and the other a good few cents more per gallon the diesel, will be a larger impediment to the uptake of these engines by the general public than many in the industry are expecting.

      My recolection of fuel prices in Europe is that they sell diesel fuel for less per liter than they do gasoline but that was a few years ago and may no longer be the case… The point being it was sold fo less for a very long time even if it is not now the case it established the fuel as the popular choice.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve had diesels off and on for 25 years, in Maine, and I have never had the slightest issue with fuel gelling or cold starting. Even with ancient tech MBs and Peugeots, never mind modern TDIs.

      It’s not entirely about the economics. A modern diesel gives the same sort of low-revving unstressed torquey shove as a big lazy v8 in mild tune, but with 2-3x the fuel economy.

      If you think that the very minor added cost of the fuel matters in the slightest, I suggest that you repeat 3rd grade math.

      • 0 avatar
        Athos Nobile

        Diesel sales are growing down here. Specially for utes/SUVs and some of the luxury cars.

        Diesel is usually more expensive than petrol, but consumption, specially on SUVs, gives them the advantage.

    • 0 avatar

      I live in Denver and diesel currently costs less than regular (not premium) at a lot of gas stations. On average its probably 2 or 3 cents more, but it was less the last time I filled up. In winter its comparable to premium, usually about 20-30 cents more per gallon than regular. Rarely have I seen it more than premium.

      I also have had no problems with freezing, the glowplugs are amazingly fast, and the car has started no problem cold mountain mornings at 20 below zero.

      Regarding horsepower, yeah its less, but the torque makes up for it for 95% of US driving. I can hit 30mph slightly behind a GTI, and 45mph maybe a half second back. It lags though from 45-60 just because it drops off at high revs, but you can get surprisingly good passing performance on the highway regardless. Max torque rating of 230 lb/ft at 1750-2500 RPMs means that for a while the rate of acceleration is quite high, but yes, HP dips off quickly behind that as the engine winds out. Its rare that anyone has their car redlined though, so for anyone who shifts before 4000 RPM’s they will actually find the TDI to be faster. If you are constantly driving with revs up around 7000, then yes you notice the difference, but for typical American drivers (with auto transmissions that shift early), they would actually perceive higher HP in a TDI where you are producing more HP at an equivalent engine rev.

  • avatar

    “With the Jetta Sportwagon, that rate is up to 80 percent.”

    That’s partly because they don’t offer a Jetta Sportwagen GLI. I love the panoramic sunroof available on the JSW.

  • avatar

    I come from a family of VW drivers that have collectively owned 17 diesel VWs spanning 28 model years. Like Hackenberg, I welcome more choice in the lower end of the market. As much as I could afford a M-B, Audi, or BMW diesel, I want to shift my own gears and don’t want to spend much over $30k (Canadian) for a new car. At this point, VW is the only game in town. If GM can produce a compelling product at a reasonable price, then I think they might have a winner. As mentioned by an earlier poster, if someone has import-phobia, the Cruze (despite its Korean design and European engine) may be the ticket for a diesel-curious buyer to join the club. Concerns with fuel gelling are, in my experience mere paranoia. The last time I had any gelling issues was around 1996 in a decade-old Jetta. As far as fuel costs go, many juridictions routinely see diesel prices below regular gas (diesel is currently $0.15/litre cheaper than regular gas here), which, while still requiring a significant period of time for payback, is an incentive, especially for high-mileage drivers. If GM wants my business, they need to put the diesel in a hatchback or wagon, offer me a manual, and make it brown with AWD while they’re at it. No joke. I’d actually buy that. Thge only thing wrong with my 2004 Passat 1.8T 4Motion wagon was that it wasn’t a diesel.

  • avatar

    A diesel Passat just set a record 77 mpg. GM needs Bob Lutz now more ever.

  • avatar

    I just spent 350 miles in a new Cruze Diesel. I averaged 38 mpg driving fairly aggressively over mostly mountain roads. I averaged 49 mpg during a 50 mile straight freeway portion of the trip. Even better, the engine was remarkably smooth, quiet, and had great midrange torque. The engine loafs along at 2,000 rpm at 70 mpg. There are a lot of reasons to like this engine besides the economics of fuel economy.

    One more thing, here in Northern California diesel fuel is cheaper than 87 octane unleaded ($3.99 vs. $4.15 this morning).

    • 0 avatar

      ::One more thing, here in Northern California diesel fuel is cheaper than 87 octane unleaded ($3.99 vs. $4.15 this morning).::

      $3.97 for regular, $3.93 for diesel at one station I go to frequently.

      A lot of people complain if a car takes premium, so no surprise that this is a common complaint (even when it’s not always true). The price of premium gas is a rounding error on the price of a car when you consider all costs of driving.

  • avatar

    One thing about diesels people mostly forget, range. Never mind 50MPG picture making 700-1000 miles on a tank…
    I feel there is no harm, in the American market, that diesels passenger cars could take 15% to 25% more market share especially with SUV’s where towing is a priority.

    • 0 avatar

      Of course, in the US you need the range to find a gas station with diesel. Hopefully there is an ap now to find them without going too far out of your way.

      • 0 avatar

        ::in the US you need the range to find a gas station with diesel::

        Maybe in the 70s that was true… It would be trivial to find diesel on any car travel I’ve done in the last several years.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Diesel power has a very bright future in the US.

    I see some comments on the initial cost of the vehicle. But most don’t go out and just buy the cheapest. If that was the case most would buy a base model Toyota Yaris, but this doesn’t occur.

    A lot of people sit down and calculate how they have to spend on a vehicle, then purchase.

    So making a comparison between the same models in diesel vs gas isn’t quite accurate.

    Also, people who drive a diesel also drive them because of the experience of driving one.

    Most provide effortless acceleration. They are fantastic cruising vehicles. As good as a V8 on the highway.

    You will see small commercial vehicles like pickups and vans with diesel. As they become more accepted by the mainstream CUVs/SUVs will attract customers.

  • avatar

    I’ve driven VW diesels ranging in age from 1985 to 2012 and the technological improvements are astounding. I don’t have a long commute, but I bought a Sportwagen TDI primarily because it puts a grin on my face every time I tromp the go pedal. Plus having a range of close to 600 miles per tank is a nice bonus.

    I think it’s great that GM is finally selling a small car with at least the proper engine in it. I’m hoping to drive a diesel Cruze sometime soon to see what they’re like. I might end up betraying VW as a result…

  • avatar

    I’ve had two of the early VW diesels…slow, smoky, clattery. My 2012 Golf TDi is none of those. At 25k miles, the inside of the exhaust pipe is cleaner than a gas car. There is zero soot or oil on the back of the hatch…that slime every diesel car used to have is gone.

    Diesel fuel varies a lot in price, more than gas, but can be had for the price of mid-grade in most areas.

    Torque…ahhh, torque. The TDi is like an old school two barrel V8. Massive pull off the line, runs out of steam up top. Short shift and plan in advance. It’s not slow, like the old cars, just has everything at the bottom. I drove a 335d, and the seven (eight ?) speed autobox short shifted it like a motocross bike up and over the torque plateau. 100 mph and I never saw 4300 rpm !

    I drove a Peugeot Diesel in Germany recently as well. Much the same as my TDi.

    A Diesel beats a hybrid for rural and suburban driving, which is 90% of the USA. I have 2000 rpm at 80 mph, and net 40 mpg…..

    • 0 avatar

      Regarding rural and suburban driving, the pull from the torque will get you 30 or 45 not much behind faster cars as well, because it takes a gas engine time to get up to peak horsepower as the engine has to be revving pretty high. If you look at the numbers comparing the TDI with the GTI in the US, it isn’t very far behind to 30 or 45. 0-60 it gets killed though once the GTI can get fully revved up.

      I think for the average driver, in a lot of ways a TDI will “feel” much more powerful than many cars with higher HP just because of the types of driving they are doing, and the fact that they rarely get the engine up to the 5,000 RPM’s (or whatever) necessary to maximize HP.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    What Hackenburg doesn’t understand is that diesels makes no sense in small cars in the US. Completely pointless. Put a 4 cylinder diesel in a 1/2 ton PU or Tahoe, something that can actually do some work towing/hauling and then you have something.

    • 0 avatar

      ::Put a 4 cylinder diesel in a 1/2 ton PU or Tahoe, something that can actually do some work towing/hauling and then you have something.::

      The Germans have already been doing this, albeit with 6-cylinders. For example, the Audi Q7 and the Mercedes GL have had V6 diesels for a while. Oddly, Audi only had diesels available in the smallest (A3) and largest cars in the US, but now they’re filtering the diesels into the rest of the product line.

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