Not your father's diesel.....

Ronen Doron

It was 1982 and my Dad had ordered his third Oldsmobile. It was a Cutlass Sierra Diesel and it was the reason my Dad stopped buying American cars.

Back then, Mercedes, Peugeot, and a few others offered legitimate diesels in the U.S. But it wasn't long before Americans got fed up with the noise, smoke and reliability, and decided diesels were not for them. The other reasons were strict emissions standards.

Despite the fact that BMW, Audi, Mercedes, and most carmakers offer diesels around the world, only Volkswagen stayed the course in America.

Let's fast-forward 25 years and try to understand why American consumers are so different. While 95% of European cars are manual and over 75% are diesels, we prefer automatics and unleaded. But wait, there have been improvements. Diesel fuel is now cleaner, emissions are better, and with that, diesels have been given a second life. Last year Volkswagen sold almost 30,000 diesel-powered passenger cars in the U.S.

So where do we go from here? At the 2008 North American International Auto Show (January, 2008) BMW, Mercedes, and Honda made key product announcements regarding their diesel technology.

Let's start with Mercedes-Benze who has been the clear cut leader with their Bluetec Diesel Technology.  As of this show, M-B has the following models slotted for the North American Market:

  • E-Class Sedan
  • S-Class Sedan
  • ML-Class Crossover SUV
  • GLK-Class Compact Crossover SUV
  • and more are on their way

BMW stepped up big with two new diesel announcements.  The BMW 335d (show here) and the BMW X5 XDrive 35d.  Both models are two of BMW's most popular models in America so it was not by accident that they chose them as the proper vehicles to transcend diesel technology from Europe.

And last but not least, Honda did not unveil a new diesel model, but a new diesel engine with firm plans for a diesel model in America by 2009.

All of these have a few things in common....they are clean, quiet, efficient, and meet the new Diesel Emmissions Government Requirements. 

Stay tuned for more on diesel technology from these and other manufacturers.