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German carmakers seek more diesel sales in US

The Local · 7 Jan 2012, 13:09

Published: 07 Jan 2012 13:09 GMT+01:00

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Under the direction of the Association of German Automobile Manufacturers, the companies are planning a diesel offensive in the United States, where diesel motors are in about two percent of cars. In Europe, nearly 50 percent of automobiles are diesel vehicles, the paper said.

German car-makers told the newspaper they are convinced that this time they can get Americans to switch to diesel, despite numerous failed attempts in the past. They believe their chances are good at because of the ever increasing high price of petrol, improvements in diesel motors and a concerted effort by the association and manufacturers to target the US market.

The switchover campaign is set to begin this week with the opening of the Detroit Motor Show. But the automakers are aware that they have an uphill battle. Diesel is associated with stinky smells and dust in many parts of the United States.

Matthias Wissmann, president of the German manufacturers' group, said German automakers realize that diesel technology is not exactly widespread in the US, but added “we’ve improved our image.” He told the Süddeutsche that German carmakers are bringing their top models to the US.

Nevertheless the automakers admitted it won’t be easy. Tough competition will come from hybrids, many of which are from Japan. Hybrids account for about four percent of the US market.

Story continues below…

The Local/mw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:21 January 7, 2012 by Wrench
Americans are a not well informed about diesels. They always think of the big noisy trucks with black smoke belching from them. Plus, diesel fuel is more expensive in the states (higher taxes) I recently bought a Ford Kuga diesel and I love it.
16:04 January 7, 2012 by Illogicbuster
Diesel fuel is much more expensive (NOT mainly from taxes) and not available at MANY gas stations in cities.
16:05 January 7, 2012 by BobbyDigital
Its going to take quite a marketing campaign to get Americans to start buying diesels.

Why is it more expensive, anyway?
16:15 January 7, 2012 by taiwanluthiers
For a long time Diesel was cheaper than gasoline, because it took less process to produce diesel than gas. I don't know what happened, but it seems gasoline was in more of a demand than diesel, so they did some creative chemistry to get more gas out of a barrel of oil (traditionally it was only 10% of a barrel that can turn into gasoline). As the result of higher demand for gasoline, its price did not go as high as diesel. Diesel engines are actually more efficient by the way...
17:21 January 7, 2012 by Englishted
It will be the same as always when most people us diesel the price will rise.

If cars ran on fresh air ,then they would find a way to tax it.
18:11 January 7, 2012 by cat3
"Americans are a not well informed about diesels."

That is a very poor statement and shows a lack of understanding about the U.S. auto market and history of diesel powered cars in the U.S.

Diesel powered autos were typically more expensive to purchase, diesel fuel was about the same cost or higher than gas and there are/were wide variations in fuel quality. Add in tougher regulations on particulate emissions and the poor reputation caused by GM's horrid diesel engines in the 70's and 80's and the demand for diesel powered cars basically dried up.

I hope that the new generation of clean diesels takes hold in the U.S. market but I have been reading about failures with VW fuel pumps and no warranty coverage.
23:54 January 7, 2012 by iseedaftpeople
I don't like diesels. They're noisy, they smell, and somehow, despite years of technological quantum leaps that have brought us TDI and common rail diesel engines, they still have that feel about them as if you're driving a tractor. Well, a tractor that catapults you from 0 to 60 mph in split seconds... but nonetheless still a tractor.

Maybe it's because I grew up in a time here in Germany when the typical diesel driver was an old man in a hat with either a type-123 Mercedes or a (preferably leaf green) VW Golf MK1.
01:39 January 8, 2012 by NewEnglander
I love my diesel powered TDI Audi and have noticed a lot of people asking me about it here in the northeast US. Hopefully it catches on, but there are some obstacles to that happening. Not every gas station carries diesel, and the ones that do only have a couple of pumps at best. There have been days where I have had to wait quite a while just to get a free pump because there is only one diesel station and a big truck was already there filling up. Some of them also have nozzles that do not fit well inside the smaller sized gas tanks compared to the bigger commercial trucks, so when you pump, it foams up really bad and shuts off prematurely. Diesel costs on average at least 10% more than gasoline, and the pumps themselves can often be filthy. While I can deal with the latter problem, I can see some people being turned off by smelling diesel on their shoes and/or gloves all day after filling up in the winter.

Anyway, not trying to be negative here with that information but rather trying to explain some of the challenges related to the infrastructure. These small drawbacks are definitely worth the superior performance to hybrids at similar or better mileage, especially for those of us on the highway a lot. I'm very happy for having made the jump to diesel.
02:13 January 8, 2012 by Stuttgartborn
I just bought a 2012 VW Jetta TDI and love it. In California, where I live, diesel runs about 10 cents a gallon more than premium gasoline and is readily available. The mileage benefits (I'm averaging 42 mpg to date) FAR outweigh the added fuel cost. The performance is very impressive, as well. My friends are bowled over when they find out the car is diesel powered, and several are now looking into purchasing TDI's. I doubt I'll ever go back to a gas burner!
04:22 January 8, 2012 by Runnerguy45
I too own a VW TDI and am worried about the fuel pump that VW wont back. I love my TDI and its great mpg. Its true here in the States that diesel is more expensive.

The US govt needs to addres their rules on diesel quality so the fuel pumps that work in Europe work in the States.
05:34 January 8, 2012 by volvoman9
Most of the posters are missing the point here. Diesel engines do pollute more that petrol engines and are inheritently more expensive to maintain due to more robust design.Though the performance of the new variants coming from Europe is remarkable I still don't see them as a true alternative to the American market.

Americans are largely unsophisticated in their automotive tastes. They like the huge. the gaudy. and the conspicuously powerful. It's part of the culture. This is not meant to be a criticism merely an observation. This is one of idiosyncrasies that the rest of the world identifies and reveres as American.

Diesel fuel is indeed cheaper to make as it requires less processing in the cracking cycle. However it is more expensive for one simple reason. Most of America's goods are transported by lorry. These monsters are powered exclusively by diesel. Historically this fuel was cheaper than petrol but the oil cartels caught on in the last few years and now the fuel is the most expensive available, even surpassing premium grades.

America's mass transport system was once reminiscent of Europe's but this too was made obsolete by the same cartels.

In the U.S. fuel taxes are much lower and so fuel is much cheaper by comparison. This is changing however as the oil cartels see the sunset of their product. They are massing on the profit potential in order to gain purchase on the next big fuel. I think hydrogen will win the day but only when big oil finds a way to corner this market.
16:27 January 8, 2012 by storymann
NewEnglander that was a very informative and nice read, thank you.
14:47 January 9, 2012 by vossy
I was in England during Christmas and the cost of diesel compared to petrol is unreal, I paid GBP 1.55 for diesel and petrol was GBP 1.36, my relatives in England now say that there is no cost saving in driving a diesel car there, even BMW cars get high 30mpg figures now.
15:53 January 9, 2012 by kielbasi99
This is typical. I work with many Germans as I am in the engineering packaging machinery world. They look at a 2% and say this should not be because this is not what Germany thinks. We will change them. Instead of realizing that Diesel is not available in many places in the US and Diesel in the US in much more expensive then gas.
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