Volkswagen will soon be officially unveiling its new BlueMotion diesels -- variants of the Polo, Golf, and Passat. The trio manages 71.3 mpg, 61.9 mpg, and 53.4 mpg, respectively. Assuming these numbers hold, this would place them ahead of the hot 2010 Toyota Prius hybrid in fuel efficiency.   (Source: AutoBlog)

The new BlueMotion Passat features industry-leading performance for a mid-size sedan and is packed with clean diesel technology.  (Source: AutoBlog)
Volkswagen's electric-free diesel offerings are putting hybrids to shame

This week at a Automotive Press Association luncheon in Detroit, Jim O'Donnell, chairman and CEO of BMW's U.S. operations reaffirmed his company's strong commitment to pushing diesel in the U.S. as an alternative or supplement to hybrid vehicles.  BMW is jumping into electrics as well with the electric MINI E and its new X6 and 7 ActiveHybrids.  However, he says that diesel's impressive performance is driving sales of the 335ds and X5s.  He also hinted that a 5-Series diesel may be coming next year as well.

That wasn't the only exciting news for diesel enthusiasts from the German front this week.  Volkswagen, Germany's largest automaker, announced that it will be debuting three new BlueMotion vehicles at the Frankfurt Auto Show.  BlueMotion is Volkswagen's most fuel-efficient diesel platform.

The Golf, Polo, and Passat will all get BlueMotion variants -- the U.S. will at least get a diesel version of the Golf, the other two models are still up in the air.  The Polo will get an incredible 71.3 mpg (U.S.) and emit a mere 87 g of CO2/km.  This emissions performance matches that of the Smart ForTwo, but the noticeable difference is that you can seat five in the Polo, versus the titular two in the ForTwo.  This feat is pulled off thanks to Volkswagen's new 1.2-liter TDI engine.

Next up, the Golf gets an also impressive 61.9 mpg and 99 g of CO2/km emissions off a peppier 103 hp 1.6-liter TDI.  The mid-sized Passat rounds off the lineup with the same engine, but lower fuel economy at 53.4 mpg and higher (but still low) emissions of 114 g of CO2/km.

Among the ways Volkswagen has fine-tuned its diesel performance to sip fuel is its recalibration of these engines and reductions to their idle speed.  To further reduce idle losses, it's vehicles include an automatic start-stop system, low rolling resistance tires and reduced aerodynamic drag thanks to lower front air dams and rocker panel extensions.

While clean diesel vehicles aren't the perfect fuel economy solution, they're certainly giving mild hybrids a run for their money (the hot 2010 Toyota Prius gets approximately 50 mpg according to the EPA and the 2010 Honda Insight, another top selling hybrid, gets 41 mpg -- both vehicles can manage much higher fuel economy under certain driving conditions).  What should be truly exciting is when the price of both technologies drops enough that diesel-hybrids can reach the masses.

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