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What's Holding Diesel Back in the U.S.?

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Posts: 9,975
edited October 2014 in General
imageWhat's Holding Diesel Back in the U.S.?

This is what most people associate with diesel vehicles, but it is no longer the case. | May 18, 2010 | Dr Keats/Creative Commons

Read the full story here


Comments

  • Volkswagen continues to cause the diesel reputation to spiral downwards. Reliability on the TDiS is extremely bad. Horror stories of engine and turbo meltdowns, electrical failures, and sky high repair costs prove the new diesels are no better than the old.
  • Biodiesel is the clean alternative to petroleum based diesel. Also, to make biodiesel it uses cooking oil, a renewable energy source from restaurant fryers. Most biodiesel companies provide the pumping service of the cooking oil for free. This is a great alternative to hybrid vehicles that still have the problem with batteries. If biodiesel production increased with the help of government subsidies the demand could easily be there to compete with hybrid vehicles.
  • Don't people realize they would be saving more money in the long run by switching to diesel engines that get much higher MPG, even if the price of the fuel is higher?
  • After driving a VW Jetta TDI for 9+ years and 226k miles, I did some math to figure out if the VW TDI actually wins in overall costs. I will admit, my Jetta was in the shop a lot. And I always took it to the dealer which probably made it as expensive as it gets. I saved all my records so I know exactly what I spent ... and my frequent repair bills on the Jetta ended up costing $1550/yr. An "average" car is supposed to cost about $650/yr in maintenance, so I was spending more than twice as much as the average car owner on repair bills.

    EVEN SO, my 45 mpg Jetta still won in overall costs against an "average" gas car getting 24 mpg because the gasser would have been 1.6 times as expensive at the pump (and that's assuming diesel is always 15% more expensive than gas). Of course, we don't know if the gasser would have held out for 226k miles ... diesel cars have very long life expectancies.

    So last year I compared a 2010 Honda Fit (est. 33 mpg) with a 2010 VW Golf TDI. The (1) better mileage of the Fit, (2) its lower MSRP, and (3) Honda's great reputation for low maintenance costs made the Fit look like a worthy competitor for the TDI. If we assume the Golf will be as pricey as the Jetta was for maintenance, the Honda Fit will indeed win in overall costs by about $3600 over 9 years and 226k miles (again - assuming the Honda Fit lasts that long).

    So if the overall cost of driving your car is the only thing that matters, you probably can beat a TDI. Then again, if other things matter - e.g. safety, winter driving, stability at high speeds, handling, a quiet ride, fit & finish, and the amazing torque of the TDI - I'll take the TDI any day. The Golf TDI is a really sweet car - you get spoiled fast. So even if that means I have a car that's in the shop a lot, I've got to say I'm very happy with the TDI and I would recommend it to anyone who does a lot of driving. (And my VW dealer does give me a loaner car when I need one).

    BTW - those EPA estimates on the TDI's are always low because they are based on new cars that haven't been broken in yet. I've got 23k on my 1-year-old 2010 Golf TDI now, and it's been averaging 40-45 mpg depending on the time of year (winter mpg runs lower than summer mpg). That's a good deal higher than the EPA estimates they show on the sticker.
  • ixdavidixdavid Posts: 1
    You forgot to mention another drawback. Diesel fuel is not as available as gasoline. There are many more gasoline station than diesel stations and your local station may not be open as late.
  • mike580mike580 Posts: 1
    Use of the word "Market" for decision making is terribly deceitful. The consumer is not the market. The manufacturer decides what will be in the market. It decides what it prefers to sell based on vehicle profit. A cousin in living Shrewsbury England tells me that there are 10 different automobile models selling in England with Diesel Engines rated from 60 to 72 Miles per Imperial Gallon. Converted to U.S. Gallons that comes out to 72 to 86 Mile Per U.S. Gallon. Who in the market (if it is the consumer) doesn't want to get 80 mpg and what is the real reason those engines are not in he U.S.?
  • kdclockskdclocks Posts: 1
    Another thing about diesels. I have a 2002 TDI Jetta I have owned since October 2001. I have 107K miles on it and have had to re-build the automatic transmission and perform major engine repairs. Besides these un-expected costs, the oil you must use is synthetic and we all know this costs about $6 per quart. A filter for this model runs $10 bucks. So oil changes, done by myself every 5K miles, costs $40.00
    or twice the cost of having it done at a discount at some oil changing garage. Does the higher costs of fuel and oil changes make up the difference? Do your own math.....and don't forget the premium cost associated with the TDI purchase price vs. gas powered. BY the way, I got 38 to 40 mpg around town and 43 mpg hwy with the cruise control set between 75 and 80 mph. I would not buy another diesel.
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