Diesels Aren't Just for Europeans Anymore… Apparently

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

CNNMoney's caught diesel fever, echoing "experts" predicting sales of oil burners stateside are set to rise by 300 percent over the next ten years. That's "partly because diesel engines generally deliver anywhere from 20 to 40 percent better fuel economy than gasoline-powered engines, depending on the vehicle and engine size." While we're impressed by the assertion's qualifier count, and wonder what the other part of "partly" might be (it can't be diesel engines' higher production costs), the real mystery is how CNN could write such a blatantly pro-diesel piece without once mentioning the word "particulates." Or comparing European diesel tailpipe regs to California's (which sets the U.S. standard). Instead, we get the happy-clappies from Patrik Borenius, manager of advanced product planning for Mercedes. "The new clean-diesel engines provide three key benefits," Borenius opined. "It's a more fuel-efficient technology, so the customer gets better gas mileage; it offers environmental benefits by producing less carbon dioxide and greenhouse gasses, and it's one of the answers to the energy issue, in terms of reducing our dependence on foreign oil." So where are these Mercedes' clean diesels? Again, talk to California. And what of Honda's new clean diesel engine that meets the CA standards? Nothing.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Redbarchetta Redbarchetta on Dec 13, 2007

    Chuck did you add the tank and whatever is needed to be able to run vegetable oil in your TDI? I am helping my brother install the unit in his VW Bug TDI over Christmas and I was looking for any pointers or problems you may have run into. I may end up following his lead in the near future if these new clean diesels will run on it without future problems and voiding the warranty right off the bat. I can't wait for Subaru to hit the market with theirs in the next few years.

  • Redbarchetta Redbarchetta on Dec 13, 2007

    I miss my MB 300TD and the interesting people you meet fueling next to the trucks. I just washed my hands after filling up and it was no hastle.

  • Mikeg Mikeg on Dec 14, 2007

    Re the question about why they don't offer diesels as an option for mainstream SUVs; I couldn't agree more. It really should be an option here. I rented a Toyota 4Runner in Costa Rica with a turbo 4 cylinder diesel and it ran very strong, got great mileage and was fun to drive. It passed slow buses on snakey mtn roads with aplomb, fully laden.

  • Stuki Stuki on Dec 14, 2007

    Hopefully, Americans en masse won’t fall into the trap of adopting diesels to any large extent. I spend quite a bit of time in Europe every year, and every city over there flat out stink, ‘clean’ diesels or not. Also, from what I hear over there, people are starting to complain about increased asthma suffering etc. from particulate emissions. Some claim the latest and greatest particle filtered engines will finally be really ‘clean’ (…now where have I heard that before…), but already buyers are removing the filters (they increase consumption 5+% and decrease power), so that might not work to well either…. Diesel popularity in Europe is just one more example of blowback from a tax and subsidy market manipulation scheme gone bad, and should be put to rest with the rest of them.