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GM Debunks Diesel Myths

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On: Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 3:14PM | By: Chris Weiss

GM Debunks Diesel Myths

Despite the pressure for more fuel efficient, clean-burning cars, and despite a strong presence in Europe, diesel engines are virtually non-existent in North America. Diesel cars just aren't all that available in the US, and Americans don't seem all that interested anyway. Diesels smell weird, are more difficult to fuel up due to lack of diesel pumps when compared with gas, tend to cost more per gallon because of taxation (though can save money in the long run due to better efficiency), and are really just for truckers. Right? Wrong, says GM with a new list of myths and truths.

According to a 2009 article on PopularMechanics.com, diesels make up about 50 percent of the European automotive market. Over here in the US, on the other hand, they're in the single digits. GM puts diesel sales at a mere 3 percent of the market. That really doesn't make a whole lot of sense, seeing as how Americans are very motivated to find cars that are cheaper to fuel. Still, diesel options are slim, and Americans believe that diesels are noisy, dirty and rough. They also see higher diesel prices at the pump, if they see diesel prices at all.

Well, GM is on a mission to fix all that. It will address the availability issue by giving auto consumers a new diesel engine option - a 2.0-liter turbo diesel that will be offered on the Chevy Cruze, one of GM's standard bearers for clean, efficient driving, starting next year. As far as the other two issues, it offers the above 'debunk' infographic. The information is simple and straightforward, so we'll let the image speak for itself.

While diesel technology had a boost in the US during the 70s gas crisis, diesels have been completely marginalized in the US market since. Now that gas woes are back, though, diesel may see a US renaissance. Market research firm Baum and Associates expects sales of diesel-powered vehicles to double over the next few years, jumping from 3 percent today to 6 percent in 2015. Diesels provide better mileage than gas engines, and GM says that compact cars equipped with diesels are typically able to offer 40 mpg +.

While diesels do command a price premium over gas engines, it's not nearly as high as that of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. As an example, the 2012 Audi A3 with 2.0-liter TDI and 34 mpg combined starts at $30,250, the 2.0-liter gas version with 24 mpg at $27,270. So, for about a $3,000 premium, you get a small luxury car with an extra 10 mpg that's several thousand dollars less than a plug-in.

According to GM, Chevy will be "the only domestic automaker offering an American- manufactured diesel-powered compact car with a European-American developed engine," when it launches the Cruze diesel. While other US diesel options are slim, several European automakers like Audi, Volkswagen and Mercedes do sell diesel cars in the US, and more automakers plan to introduce diesels in the future. Here's a list of diesel cars currently sold here along with their fuel economy ratings, from the EPA.

Americans already have the incentive to look into diesels, with the introduction of more diesel options, they may just start buying them - especially if traditional diesel pitfalls have been solved as thoroughly as GM's info indicates.


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