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2012 VW Passat
2012 Passat TDI will be rated at 31 city, 43 highway

Amidst all of this talk of [relatively] low-displacement turbocharged, gasoline-electric hybrid, and fully electric vehicles, the North American car market seems to have forgotten about turbodiesel engines. Diesels are the go-to solution for getting incredible fuel economy in European vehicles, but the North American auto market doesn't have a wide range of diesel vehicles to choose from (unless you want a full-size pickup). 

However, you can always count of the VW Group to embrace turbodiesel technology and the company offers U.S.-spec Audi and Volkswagen branded vehicles with TDI engines. The latest of these vehicles is the new 2012 Passat TDI.

The Passat TDI features a 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine and starts at $25,995. For the enthusiasts out there, the TDI can be paired with a standard 6-speed manual transmission or an optional 6-speed DSG dual-clutch unit. 

VW says that the Passat TDI will deliver 43 mpg on the highway, giving it a maximum driving range of 800 miles. City fuel economy is a respectable 31 mpg. For comparison, the Toyota Camry Hybrid ($27,050), Hyundai Sonata Hybrid ($25,795), and Ford Fusion Hybrid ($28,600) are rated at 31/35, 35/40, and 41/36 respectively (city/highway).

"The 2012 Passat is a true Volkswagen, offering German engineering, class-leading standard features, and superior fuel economy, all for a remarkable value," said Jonathan Browning, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. "Demonstrating our commitment to the American market, the car will be produced at one of the newest, most advanced, and environmentally responsible auto assembly plants in the world in Chattanooga, Tennessee."

Interestingly, while VW seems to be embracing diesel engines for its passenger vehicles, Ford has no plans to share its European diesel engines with consumers in the U.S.

"[Ford] could easily bring diesels to the U. S. market," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president for global product development, in March. “It doesn’t make sense. We are not going to force it on customers.”

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Force it on consumers?!
By quiksilvr on 6/15/2011 9:58:17 AM , Rating: 5
It's AN OPTION. Obviously you're not going to have purely diesel versions of a car. You'll have the option to go petrol or diesel.

RE: Force it on consumers?!
By Dr of crap on 6/15/2011 10:14:46 AM , Rating: 3
Yes, and why not give car buyer THAT option?

All I read about is how the US does not want diesels.
Yet VW has sold diesels for many years.

I think it's more involved than then that and I wish they'd give the REAL reason they do not want to offer diesel here.

RE: Force it on consumers?!
By Flunk on 6/15/2011 10:51:45 AM , Rating: 1
Because it would cost more to do it that they'd make back. Shipping extra versions of cars to showrooms that no one wants to buy is very expensive.

RE: Force it on consumers?!
By quiksilvr on 6/16/2011 9:12:01 AM , Rating: 3
That can't be the only reason. It's pretty easy to market these things:

"Hey you want an extra 5-10 mpg?"
*points at diesel car*

RE: Force it on consumers?!
By Iaiken on 6/15/2011 11:21:17 AM , Rating: 5
I think it's more involved than then that and I wish they'd give the REAL reason they do not want to offer diesel here.

Here's the short answer:

Short answer, North American diesel fuel used to be high in sulfur and sulfur dioxide in exhausts is a leading cause of acid rain.

And the long answer:

North American diesel fuel had a typical sulfur count of ~500 ppm while many European fuels had an upper limit on them of 50 ppm with regard to sulfur count since the early 1990's and is now 15 ppm.

The massive difference required European engines and exhaust systems to be redeveloped to cope with the additional sulfur. The interior of the engines themselves would become gummed up with plasticized sulfur over time and emission control devices would be poisoned out by the additional sulfur dioxide in as little as 200 miles.

The refineries in the US/Canada should already be completely converted over to the same 15 ppm standard as Europe as of the end of 2011 and Mexico switched back in 2008.

So basically the door to other companies bringing in unmodified diesels only opened at the start of this model year and it will take some time for them to start entering the market. The TDI engines in post 2009 VW's are identical to those in Germany. Honda, Nissan and Toyota have all announced that they will be bringing over diesels in the light-duty truck and SUV segments. Additionally, Honda will be bringing over a diesel Accord and Subaru will be bringing over boxer diesels across it's entire line.

As for why Chevy and Ford won't bring over their own diesel technologies is anybodies guess.

RE: Force it on consumers?!
By FITCamaro on 6/15/2011 12:39:18 PM , Rating: 2
As for why Chevy and Ford won't bring over their own diesel technologies is anybodies guess.

Can't speak to Ford but GM was told to shelve its 4.5L diesel V8 that it planned to put in light trucks when the government took over.

Our politicians don't want diesel. They want electric.

RE: Force it on consumers?!
By stilltrying on 6/15/2011 1:09:45 PM , Rating: 3
It political. How about a toyota truck (Toyota Hilux) that can last forever and get 30-40mpgs. Outlawed in the states, what does that tell ya.

RE: Force it on consumers?!
By kmmatney on 6/15/2011 6:00:28 PM , Rating: 2
In the states, its called the "Tacoma".

I would provide a wiki link to the Tpyota Hilux, but it gets flagged as spammed. The do offer deisel engines in other countries, though.

RE: Force it on consumers?!
By tyger11 on 6/15/2011 1:27:22 PM , Rating: 2
Diesel in the U.S. went to 35ppm sulphur in 2005 or so. No idea about Mexico, though.

RE: Force it on consumers?!
By djc208 on 6/15/2011 2:58:51 PM , Rating: 2
There is also the issue of emissions regulations. US regs don't differentiate between gas and diesel emissions. And while a diesel is more efficient, the mix of gasses it produces is different (usually more NOx and particulates).

The commercial/HD market is just starting to see tighter emissions regs, which is why the new diesels from Ford and Chevy have to have Eurea injection and advanced catalysts to meet those standards. It's caused a hit in most of their fuel efficiency numbers too.

So while the diesel fuel may be OK for european diesel engines, the emission systems of many would still not meet US spec.

VW had to halt US diesel sales for a year or two till they re-designed the motor to meet the newer emissions standards. BMW went to BlueTech (which is just eurea injection) on their diesels to get there.

The final problem is availability and cost. The higher fuel taxes on diesel are due to the fact that most diesel is used in large commercial trucks, which do a disproportionate amount of damage to the roads. So while diesel is more efficient, it barely offsets the higher cost of the fuel due to the tax structure.

A lesser issue is that diesel is not as readily available as gasoline, you have to pay attention when you start running low on gas, not everywhere in an urban environment has diesel for sale. This could be easily fixed.

RE: Force it on consumers?!
By Samus on 6/15/2011 3:06:03 PM , Rating: 2
It doesn’t make sense. We are not going to force it on customers.

That entire statement is contradicting in that they are forcing customers to use petrol-only engines.

RE: Force it on consumers?!
By 335d on 6/15/2011 7:23:36 PM , Rating: 2
I drove both the VW diesels and the BMW diesels and it is amazing what they have done. My 3 series BMW sedan gets 27 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, crusing at 80 mph. It is also quieter in the cabin versus the petrol version. That was a real surprise.

I'm very much sold on the newer common rail turbo diesel technology. I'm hoping the other manufacturers will bring more of them here to the 'states.

By Souka on 6/15/2011 11:21:18 AM , Rating: 2
I know it's asked said before, but I'll ask again.

What would happen if they mated a hybrid-system to that 2.0L diesel? 50mpg city? 50mpg hwy?

RE: hybrid?
By zzatz on 6/15/2011 12:59:05 PM , Rating: 4
You'd get an expensive car that got good mileage.

Gasoline engines are cheap to make, but cost more to run. Diesels cost more to make, but cost less to run. Turbocharging adds to the initial cost, but the same power from a smaller, lighter engine reduces operating costs. The same is true for hybrids; more expensive to build, cheaper to operate.

Diesel + direct injection + turbo + hybrid equals an expensive way to make power with a fairly modest improvement in fuel economy. Some of those costs may come down as they are more widely used, but the costs are higher than the benefits today.

We're all tech-heads here, so it's easy to get tunnel-vision and focus only on the technology. But the reason that Diesels are more popular in Europe than in the US isn't technology, it has to do with fuel prices and taxes. The reason that Europe favored small, high revving engines in the past, and the US favored large pushrod engines, is that European countries usually tax cars by displacement, and the US doesn't. Large, slow engines are cheaper and more fuel efficient, but taxes overcome the difference.

We rarely use the best possible technology. We use technology that's good enough but meets the non-technical needs - social, political, economic, whatever. UNIX didn't become the first OS available on hardware from different vendors because it was the best software, it was because it had a better license. And that wasn't a technical choice, it was because AT&T settled anti-trust charges by agreeing to stay out of the computer business, and thus made UNIX available to everyone else. The key point in Microsoft's history isn't that they wrote better code, it isn't that they licensed DOS to IBM, it's that the IBM contract allowed MS to license DOS to others. I'll note that when AT&T was broken up, that allowed them to enter the computer business, and they bombed. They threw away their advantage, the common platform among multiple hardware vendors, by releasing incompatible versions under more restrictive licenses.

RE: hybrid?
By Souka on 6/15/2011 5:28:17 PM , Rating: 2
Great reply, thank you.

I would like to say that people WILL pay a few extra thousand upfront to achive better mileage. If they didn't, the Prius wouldn't sell.

I will also mention that my wife used to drive a 96' 4dr VW Golf. 2L gas engine. I recall when the car was at least 5yrs old the mileage typicaly was low 30's city, 40's highway.

And that's from a non-turbo, non-hybrid, non-diesel, regular gas engine. Of course I'm sure if we threw on all the emission and saftey (weight) the mileage woudl suffer.

I don't know where I"m going with this...just rambling while I sip on my coffee waiting for a VLAN request to be finished.

RE: hybrid?
By Lord 666 on 6/16/2011 10:46:39 AM , Rating: 2
config t
int g5/1
switchpport mode access
switchport mode access vlan 50
switchport voice vlan 60

write mem

RE: hybrid?
By Etsp on 6/16/2011 12:40:58 PM , Rating: 2
Shouldn't that be: do write mem since you're still in config mode?

RE: hybrid?
By superstition on 6/15/2011 7:52:11 PM , Rating: 2
Diesel-electric hybrids offer the best fuel economy.

There are buses that use this powertrain.

Diesel excels on the highway, in comparison with gasoline. Hybrid tech excels in the city. Put the two together and you get a high MPG result.

Another important thing to do is reduce wind drag.

RE: hybrid?
By AdrianJudd on 6/16/2011 4:38:02 AM , Rating: 2
This is an interesting question. I've not seen anything on a www site comparing diesel to diesel hybrid to see what benefits there are.

According to the laws of physics, you can't get the same gain with a diesel hybrid as you can a petrol hybrid. Maybe the benefits come mainly from regerative braking?

There are so many technologies that I would like to see on cars other than adding a hybrid option. I think just adding the word 'hybrid' to a car will increase sales more from a marketing perspective than actual economic benefit.

RE: hybrid?
By superstition on 6/16/2011 4:15:45 PM , Rating: 2
What laws or those? Diesel has more energy per gallon than gasoline.

Why doesn't TDI "work" in America?
By ChemMan on 6/15/2011 3:14:44 PM , Rating: 2
Base model Golf (gas) $17,995 USD
Base model Golf (TDI) $23,225 USD

Base model Jetta (gas) $16,495 USD
Base model Jetta (TDI) $22,995 USD

Base model Passat (gas) $19,995 USD
Base model Passat (TDI) $25,995 USD

The $5,000 price premium removes any point (to me) in buying TDI. It would take the life of the vehicle to recoup the difference in cost. Does the same kind of price premium exist in Europe as well?

RE: Why doesn't TDI "work" in America?
By zzatz on 6/15/2011 4:04:32 PM , Rating: 2
"Financial incentives in Europe favored the use of diesel over gasoline to such an extent that more than 53% of all new cars sold in the European Union in 2007 were diesel cars." -

It's the price premium on gasoline in Europe that allows diesel cars to carry a price premium. Over the life of the car, you'll make up the difference in Europe, but not in the US. There are other factors for the difference in fuel prices, but public policy plays a large part. For all of the people who want European diesels in the US, all we need to do is raise taxes on gasoline and diesels will sell.

By ChemMan on 6/15/2011 5:03:12 PM , Rating: 2
Even if diesel was $2 cheaper than gasoline in Europe it would still take the life of the vehicle to overcome the price difference. Looking at VW's UK website, a base model Golf with a gasoline engine costs 15,685 and a diesel Golf costs 17,100. Seems like a more much more reasonable price difference to me.

By wielander on 6/15/2011 5:06:53 PM , Rating: 2
Those prices are somewhat deceiving; the TDI versions all include some premium options to offset the price difference.

The extra cost doesn't bother me so much because it is there for a reason: you're buying a more substantial piece of machinery. Diesel engines need to be stronger, more heavily built. This is generally understood by the market; TDIs generally last longer and depreciate more slowly.

RE: Why doesn't TDI "work" in America?
By FishTankX on 6/15/2011 6:01:41 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure about europe, but i'd like to pose the idea that it may be worth it anyways, to shell out for a diesel simply because they're known to reach ridiculous mileages.

While you may pay a premium for a vehicle that requires an engine built tougher do deal with the demands diesel places on the system, you do end up getting a tougher engine that with some babying can probably get up to 300-400k. So I think that paying 25% more for an engine that can get anywhere from 50% to 100% more useful life isn't a horrible trade off. After all, the car itself isn't a significant cost in itself in the total lifetime cost equation.

By ChemMan on 6/15/2011 8:55:27 PM , Rating: 2
I completely agree. But I don't think the average American understands or even cares. As long as they can turn the key and it goes, they're completely happy. They'll never understand why it costs more, just that it costs too much. What I'd like to see and think we need over here is a basic and inexpensive diesel car that everyone can afford.

By kmmatney on 6/15/2011 6:05:00 PM , Rating: 2
That's one good thing about the Prius - there's no non-hybrid to compare it directly to, so the price premium is somewhat hidden. It seems to be somewhere between a Corolla and a Camry, IMO.

By superstition on 6/15/2011 7:49:52 PM , Rating: 2
There is a manufacturer that just started selling a diesel version of its car as the base model and the gasoline as the high-end model with all the bells/whistles (options).

VW puts in a lot of mandatory extras so it can raise prices on the TDI. Since VW is basically the only option for those who want "affordable" diesels in the US -- they can manage to put a premium price on these cars.

The fact is, though, that there is a huge variety of diesels in places like the UK in all price ranges and sizes.

By zenom11 on 6/16/2011 11:37:56 AM , Rating: 1
not only ~$5k premium, the cost to drive per mile not a whole lot cheaper too. you can see that diesel tend to cost 10-30% more than reg gas. you may need to own your diesel car more than 10 years at least before you see your early investment comeback to your pocket. bad idea. same as hybrid cars.

The beltline is to damn high!
By siuol11 on 6/15/2011 10:19:21 AM , Rating: 2
But why is the beltline so damn high?

By Brandon Hill on 6/15/2011 10:26:11 AM , Rating: 3
Side-impact protection

RE: The beltline is to damn high!
By Flunk on 6/15/2011 10:50:19 AM , Rating: 5
And for running over small children.

Who gives a @!#*...
By Philippine Mango on 6/15/11, Rating: 0
RE: Who gives a @!#*...
By guffwd13 on 6/15/2011 11:48:57 AM , Rating: 2
Uhhh.... low sulfur diesel is actually cleaner than gas - especially when mated with ad-blue emission systems. my touareg tdi yeilds 30% lower ppm pollutants than its gas version AND CO2. this is true also for the mercedes blu-tech vehicles. i know the jetta uses a different catalytic method because the displacement is much smaller and doesn't need it.

don't forget we're talking about cars coming from the greenest country on the planet. they like diesel better for a reason.

RE: Who gives a @!#*...
By mellomonk on 6/15/2011 12:44:31 PM , Rating: 2
Finally, I don't think it's fair to compare the fuel economy of the diesel vehicles directly with the gasoline vehicles since diesel fuel has more energy in it than gasoline per the gallon which means more CO2 emissions for the same fuel economy.. A diesel vehicle that averages 33mpg is the equivalent of a gasoline vehicle that averages 29mpg... at least when it concerns CO2 emissions.

You are correct about CO2 produced per gallon, BUT you haven't done the full maths. The mileage produced per gallon is much higher for diesel in these auto applications. In other words the CO2 produced per mile driven is lower then the equivalent petrol vehicle. Add to that the amount of energy needed to transport the given volume of fuel for distribution and you reduce CO2 again. Plus any bio-diesel you add to the mix is carbon neutral. You are simply not going to win the fuel debate from a Carbon perspective.

BTW the modern Clean Diesel technologies employed in these passenger car applications do more the squeak by the minimum emissions, in fact if you check the California Air Resources Board testing, you will see VWs latest 2.0L Tdi used in VW and Audi products here, actually comes in under some of it's competitor's petrol powerplants when it comes to emissions.

RE: Who gives a @!#*...
By Philippine Mango on 6/16/2011 1:47:26 PM , Rating: 2
Show me a "diesel" car sold in the United States with an emission standard that is better than tier 2 bin 5 which btw is the current minimum standard.

RE: Who gives a @!#*...
By Philippine Mango on 6/16/2011 1:55:50 PM , Rating: 2
BTW the 2011 Jetta is rated at 34mpg with the diesel. You can get a 2011 Hyundai Elantra that is rated at 33mpg with gasoline which means the Jetta emits more co2 emissions despite being the same sized vehicle.. The Elantra is a much less expensive vehicle and employs no advanced "gadgetry" which means that there should be plenty of room for improvement with this vehicle down the line.. The Jetta on the other hand is already using an expensive diesel engine and since Volkswagen fails to meet the CAFE requirements (or at least has a history of), you'll be indirectly paying for this on top via the price tag of the vehicle.

HCCI in the future may make the argument for diesel having better fuel economy than gasoline nullified since it would effectively be having a gasoline motor operate like a diesel when cruising.

VW's diesels are excellent
By Beenthere on 6/15/2011 10:41:27 AM , Rating: 2
Most U.S. consumers are braindead when it comes to modern, clean passenger car diesels like VW's, BMW's and M-B. These are excellent, proven, practical diesels. With VW lowering the Passat price by manufacturing it in the U.S. they should be able to create far greater sales in both the gas and diesel models.

RE: VW's diesels are excellent
By Lord 666 on 6/15/2011 12:03:05 PM , Rating: 2
106,000 trouble-free miles on my 06 TDI.

But they need to knock it out of the park and be the first to mass-produce a hybrid-diesel with plug-in capability.

By btc909 on 6/15/2011 11:37:17 AM , Rating: 3
Diesel is the holdout to meet future CAFE standards. Why invest in diesel now if a cheaper petrol engine can meet current CAFE standards.

Where is the 3.0 TDI?
By Lord 666 on 6/15/2011 11:57:54 AM , Rating: 2
If they want to offer real choices, then there shold be two diesels.

Guess I am going to have to buy the A6 quattro TDI with 400lb torque.

Rent seeking
By wookie1 on 6/15/2011 12:23:46 PM , Rating: 2
US automakers don't want to spend money bringing diesel over because they feel that they're more likely to get some gov't funding for electric cars or hybrids. Also, they probably feel that at any time the EPA might shift the rules more and make diesel a losing proposition.

Since electric or gas/electric hybrids (especially plug-in) seem to be heavily favored by the gov't, not going that route is asking for trouble. Especially if it seems like you may have a more viable/cost effective solution than the Volt, which the gov't would want to protect, and may enact regulations to disfavor the Volt competition.

By jah1subs on 6/15/2011 3:29:34 PM , Rating: 2
I sold for a VW dealer for one month in October 2008 just when the economy and the vehicle market fell.

Customers wanted TDI models but we could not get any. I asked why and was told that VW made less profit selling TDI models in the US and so only shipped a few here. I was in no position to dig further.

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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