Diesel Cars Are Coming To America

by Don Elliott on March 21, 2012

Almost half of the cars sold in Europe have diesel engines. These are not the smoky smelly beasts that earned diesel engines a bad name in the United States. Today’s diesel power plants have to meet the same emissions standards as their gasoline counterparts, thanks in part to Ultra-Low Sulphur Diesel fuel and technological advances.

At the New York Auto Show, an array of auto manufacturers, primarily European, introduced their clean diesel engines that will soon be available in our market. BMW, Mini Cooper, Audi, VW, Jaguar, Mercedes Benz, and Porsche will offer diesel engine options in their new line-up. Some of the news is exciting. For example, the 2012 Jaguar XF 2.2 Diesel promises to return 52.3 combined city and highway miles per gallon. On a run across the country, Jaguar reports that their test car achieved 62.9 MPG. Does this look like a “fuel efficient diesel” to you?

Admittedly, diesel engines are currently prevalent in more expensive cars and higher GVW work trucks. Most Americans are still most comfortable with the used car value built into their gasoline fueled cars. However, as the cost of fuel goes up, car manufacturers are recognizing that some consumers will make the switch to diesel, particularly when the performance is better than expectations.

One issue with diesel engines, specifically turbocharged versions, is finding technicians who are able to service the “compression ignition engine.” ASE Certified Master Automotive Technicians are not required to complete the “Light Vehicle Diesel Engines” module to achieve the Master Tech recognition. Some auto repair shops are encouraging their techs to take the extra module as a way to attract more business from this growing segment of vehicles.

What is the difference between gasoline and diesel engines? They are both internal combustion engines. Simply put, gasoline engines, or spark ignition engines, use an external source and a spark plug to ignite the air/gas mixture in the cylinder. Diesel engines use high compression to heat up the air in the cylinder to the ignition point. The efficiency comes when the fuel, injected under high pressure, vaporizes and ignites. This produces more power than their gasoline counterparts.

Diesel engines are expensive to produce. The availability of diesel fuel in this country is still the province of truck stops. And America’s perception of the diesel power plant is tainted with memories of the domestic manufacturer’s noisy stinky engines from the 80s. But make no mistake; the fuel-efficient, clean, turbocharged diesel engine is on its way to America.

Google+ Comments

Previous post:

Next post: