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Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president for global product development
Diesels just aren't the answer for Americans says Kuzak

While fully electric cars sound great in theory with their instant torque, near silent operation, and lack of fossil fuel emissions, many people are still apprehensive about "range anxiety" when the batteries start running low. Thankfully, we have a number of options on the table when it comes "green" vehicles.

Some manufacturers like to rely on hybrid technology to achieve crazy EPA numbers (Toyota Prius is EPA rated at 50 mpg combined). Others choose to put hyper-optimized traditional gasoline engines in their vehicles (the Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Elantra, and Chevrolet Cruze can achieve 40 mpg+ on the highway depending on trim level).

Another option is to use diesel engines. However, according to Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president for global product development, diesel engines will be relegated to its heavy duty trucks and won't be filtering down into its more consumer-friendly passenger vehicles.

Kuzak brags that Ford "could easily bring diesels to the U. S. market" since it already offers a number of diesel powertrain options around the globe in its vehicles. “It doesn’t make sense. We are not going to force it on customers,” he added.

Kuzak went on to tell Automotive News that there are a number of factors going against bringing diesel engines to mainstream cars including: 

  • Diesel engines are more expensive than their gasoline counterparts
  • Americans in general are apprehensive to diesel-powered cars
  • Diesel fuel remains more expensive than gasoline
  • The payback from the initial purchase price of a diesel vehicle versus the cost savings from increased fuel efficiency can take ten years

Interestingly, points one and four could easily be leveled against hybrid vehicles, yet Ford has an impressive hybrid in its stable already with the Fusion Hybrid (41 mpg city, 36 mpg highway).

According to Kuzak, Ford will continue to use advanced powertrains like EcoBoost (turbocharging + direct injection) and direct injection alone to achieve "near diesel" EPA ratings in its vehicles.

Despite Ford's reluctance to use diesel engines, archrival General Motors is reportedly eyeing a diesel engine for its U.S. market Cruze compact sedan. Likewise, Audi -- although it is a higher tier brand than Ford -- is looking to bring its diesel engines to three more nameplates within the next 24 months.

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Another option
By lifewatcher on 3/10/2011 5:35:06 PM , Rating: 2
In Russia a capacitor-based hybrid is being developed. Should be out next year. Look it up, as DT doesn't let me post links.

RE: Another option
By lennylim on 3/10/2011 5:40:00 PM , Rating: 2
Oh no, I hope you didn't start another series of "In Soviet Russia" jokes.

RE: Another option
By btc909 on 3/10/2011 6:09:11 PM , Rating: 4
A US Company AFS Trinity Power has the same idea for years, AKA the 150MPG Saturn Vue Hybrid. A battery does best when it has a consistent constant drain, not spikes, AKA a driver mashing the gas pedal would be a spike or a "high demand". This also creates heat which will wear a battery down faster. Manufactures will leave a dead space to factor in battery cells dying out over time which is normal. But if you had capacitor with a battery feeding a capacitor instead of directly tied to the battery you would result in less heat & less load on the battery. You can reduce the amount of spare battery space to compensate for battery cell loss resulting in more battery capacity. Better yet make that engine a diesel engine which are most efficient running at a constant RPM (ever heard of the term a diesel can run 120MPH all day long) well yeah a diesel is most efficient at a constant RPM. I would like to see a diesel generator tied to a battery & a capacitor & watch those scary high MPG numbers. Also a means of capturing the heat energy from the diesel generator & loose the friction brakes.

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