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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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RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By bah12 on 3/10/2011 5:52:22 PM , Rating: 5
Don't bet on it, after all it is under him and others that have propelled Ford forward where others have not. Look at the TDI vs the SE (not the SEL since it has much more expensive standard items like nav that the tdi does not).

Price 18500
MPG 31
Todays Fuel $3.15
Miles per year 15000
Gallons used 483.87
Yearly Fuel $1,524.19

Price 23000
MPG 42
Todays Fuel $3.40
Miles per year 15000
Gallons Used 357.14
Yearly Fuel Cost $1,214.29

So in one year you save $309.91 and would pay back the higher cost in 14.5 years.

So no you are the one mistake if you think that makes sense. Now the deseil will last much longer and eventually pay for itself, but that would mean keeping the car a long time. Which is exactly his point, the US market simply does not exist for that strategy. We just do not keep our cars that long. Like he suggest it would take a massive consumer shift for that equation to be desirable.

And into it the cost of urea additive to most 2010+ model diesels and it is an even larger losing proposition.

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By yxalitis on 3/10/2011 5:58:11 PM , Rating: 4
I haven't driven these two cars to compare them, BUT the BMW 320d, and 320i are similar in terms of price difference, but the driving experience is where the benefit lies.
Diesel generates more torque, and gives a much better take off and early acceleration, which for around town driving, is where you want it.
The 320d is also more powerful, much more fuel efficient, and delivers power in a narrower band, so it's linked to a superior 6 speed automatic gear box.
It is an absolute joy to drive.
So, maybe Ford just needs to learn to build decent diesels cars....!

By zodiacfml on 3/11/2011 8:08:21 AM , Rating: 2
i agree.
the torque available offers a more relaxed driving which is only available in a higher displacement gasoline engine.

Ford has been doing good with their engines, turbo and direct injection. I say, learn diesel now than doing catch-up in the future.

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By bah12 on 3/11/2011 9:19:40 AM , Rating: 3
Don't get me wrong I agree with the "other" factors, but unless the US consumer market shifts their desire toward these benefits, it does not make financial sense to invest heavily in what is for all intents and purposes a niche market.

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By michael67 on 3/11/2011 9:43:12 AM , Rating: 2
I bin driving petrol and diesel, and have to agree diesel drives great, and the backwards thinking that petrol is better then diesel is also antique.

I had and hated Volkswagen's golfs, but there engines are great specially there TDIs, as cant even break them if you try.
And a Golf has always bin a safe bed when it came to having a car that always works.
And the diesels have better track-record then petrol.

and the prizes differents you mentions is not really correct

1.2 TSI BlueMotion Technology 77 kW/105 pk 7-DSG € 18.640,-
1.6 TDI BlueMotion Technology 77 kW/105 pk 7-DSG € 20.950,-
MPG Town / Highway / Combined
petrol 36,1 / 51,1 / 44,3 $1066.59/y (combined calculated)
diesel 45,2 / 67,2 / 57,3 $890.05/y

With a small diesel the differences are the same, but if i had to pick i would still pick the diesel as its a mouths better car to drive.
But people wont know that till the drive one.

1.4 TSI 90 kW/122 pk 6-hand € 17.275,-
2.0 TDI 103 kW/140 pk 6-hand € 20.900,-
1.4 TSI 118 kW/160 pk 6-hand € 18.970,-
2.0 TDI 125 kW/170 pk 6-hand € 21.075,-
All prizes are without tax

Yeah diesel cost more but you get also a car that's more worth when you sell it, at least here in Europe.

And the attitude was also longtime here diesels suck, till people found out that the new diesels are actual better to drive then petrol cars.
It will take some time but think diesel will also become populair in the us.

But then small cars make more sens here in the EU with the mouths higher full prizes, it is a shame that the US dose not tax there full the same way as here €1.60/L ($6.- gallon) for petrol and €1.34/L ($5.- gallon) for diesel.

And yeah i hate filling up my car (GS450h), but what dose it mater ware i pay my tax, on the full-pomp ore on other tings.
It is for the country's trade surplus beneficial to have people drive small cars, specially in bad economic times.

I drove myself a normal GS350 before and the savings i have from driving hybrid is nice, but my next car going to be a CT200h, I just don't need a big car anymore
The same go's for my wife how is district manager of a supermarket chain and manages about 70 stores, and she drives a Golf 1.6 TDI.

Next to that i have a Nissan Skyline R33 (580hp) and a Jaguar XJS 6L V12 ware i spend 2y on to get it back in mint condition, so its not like i don't love fast ore big cars, and if the jag would be reliable for everyday use i would even love to drive that everyday to work, just the sound that V12 makes, hmmmm ^_^
But we don't live in the 60s anymore, and just wasting patrol on a big car just to go to and from work is just selfish, and i would like for my kids and grand kids also be able to drive a car wen they are 18 just as i was.

Its simple just rise full tax and lower the other taxes, and people will start driving smaller cars.

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By bah12 on 3/11/2011 11:03:27 AM , Rating: 2
Its simple just rise full tax and lower the other taxes, and people will start driving smaller cars.
I agree, if our government wants to shape car buying habits, fuel tax is the place to do it. However this is tricky as we have a MUCH larger truck fleet. We are a BIG country with crappy rail service the VAST majority of stuff coming in on the west coast gets trucked to the east. Increasing fuel cost for fleets dramatically impacts cost of living for all goods not just cars. So as long as you could exempt them from the excess tax it may work.

*Note to Fit: I'm not saying they should, just that it would be far more effective than EV subsidies.
And the attitude was also longtime here diesels suck, till people found out that the new diesels are actual better to drive then petrol cars.

I'm not one with that attitude, I simply agree that it is not smart for Ford to invest heavily in a market that does not exist yet.

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By sprockkets on 3/13/2011 10:40:07 PM , Rating: 2
And a Golf has always bin a safe bed when it came to having a car that always works.

You lost all credibility when you said that.

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By Calin on 3/14/2011 3:42:37 AM , Rating: 2
The German built Golf has indeed been a safe bet when wanting a car that always works. My father in law has an Golf 1 with automatic transmission, and I don't remember him doing anything but praising the reliability of that old car. I have an 18-years old Passat, and it too has been very reliable.
American built cars might be different

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By Keeir on 3/14/2011 3:22:31 PM , Rating: 2
You lost all credibility when you said that.

No... you have exposed you lack of global knowledge.

The poster was obviously European.

In Europe, the VW Golf is one of the most popular and widely selling cars.

In fact, the VW Golf model sells around 400,000-500,000 units a year in Europe, a large chunk of the ~900,000 units yearly VW moves based on the Golf Platform.

Outside the US, VW seems to be able to deliver large numbers of fairly reliable automobiles. Worldwide sales for the VW Group are ~7-8 million (The Golf platform is highest selling) making VW one of the largest Automakers in the World.

On top of this, The Golf is often ranked very high in European surveys for consumer quality. (Europeans have significantly more brands and models to choose from... due in no small part to the larger population and national interests in keeping some brands alive)

This is what puzzles many VW fans in the United States. How cars when made for Germany/EU turn out to be more reliable that cars made for US/NA...

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By piroroadkill on 3/11/2011 3:54:51 AM , Rating: 2
You're never factoring in fluctuating fuel costs, though. If the past in any indication, prices are only going to go up, up.

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By bah12 on 3/11/2011 9:25:16 AM , Rating: 2
Actually if history tells us much is that if prices of go up so do the price of anything fuel related. So even if energy costs go up the price of each car should "in therory" go up accordingly. Casting the heavier engine, shipping it and moving all the cars around the country takes money. That cost is historically passed on to the consumer.

Therefore if gas goes up 10% and it takes x gallons to transport a gas car, and y gallons to transport a diesel the cost of those cars should rise in proportion as well. Fuel is intertwined to every product we buy.

But you are correct that it could pay off in the long run, but again the problem is people don't keep cars for the long run. So why invest heavily in R&D for a market that just does not exist yet.

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By Dr of crap on 3/11/2011 9:58:09 AM , Rating: 2
I hear this that we don't keep our cars long enough song.
So if your the first buyer, and you only keep the car for 5 years, what do you think happens after you get rid of the car??
Do you think it gets trashed and crushed??

No, it gets put up for sale again, and that car will last at least 10-20 years before it gets sent to the junk heap. So the theory that we don't keep our cars long only is true for the first owner. The car will live on, and a diesel will last longer than a gas powered one.

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By bah12 on 3/11/2011 10:55:32 AM , Rating: 2
Dude I'm not knocking diesel, I'm just saying that this guys is not way off base like the OP suggested. He is making a sound decision. I actually like the idea of diesel, but regardless of how you and I feel, the marketplace is just not there yet. Could it be, yes, and at that point I'm sure Ford will step up, but at this point it does not make a whole lot of sense.

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 3/11/2011 11:26:36 AM , Rating: 2
The issue regarding keeping a car longer than the average vehicle fleet age in the US has to do with the initial purchaser recouping the additional cost of the diesel. If he only keeps it for 5 years, he won't justify the additional cost. So his argument is good, regardless of the total life of the vehicle in the secondary market.

That being said, the average fleet age of ALL cars in the US is about 9 years, so the idea that all cars live till age 25 in the secondary market is also wrong.

By Dr of crap on 3/11/2011 12:23:05 PM , Rating: 2
And you think the recoup cost for EVs is there?

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By Keeir on 3/11/2011 2:48:51 PM , Rating: 2
So his argument is good, regardless of the total life of the vehicle in the secondary market.

A car that has low operating use is worth more in the secondary market. For example, a used 2006 Prius is worth more than equivalently MSRPed 2006 Camry. A used 2006 Highlander Hybrid is worth ~2,000 dollars more than the Highlander.

To evaulate a car for the US, I typically use 10 year/150,000 miles. 25 years is way

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By Strunf on 3/11/2011 7:46:14 AM , Rating: 1
The thing you don't into account is that diesel cars (at least here) don't lose their value as fast as gasoline ones, a 10 years old 2nd hand gasoline car is old a diesel one not so much.

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By marvdmartian on 3/11/2011 8:58:59 AM , Rating: 1
However, in the snow belt states, how many cars actually last 10 years or more? Many people are still in the 5 year trade-in cycle, due to the cancerous rust problems they have in those states.

I do agree with the idea of using more diesels in passenger cars, but understand that a lot of the problem is that many people still equate diesel engines with large passenger trucks, big rigs, buses, and really crappy cars from the 80's that sounded like buses. Until the car manufacturers can kill off that idealism, they're going to have a fight getting people to accept anything but gasoline powered engines.

By Dr of crap on 3/11/2011 9:15:03 AM , Rating: 1
You must not be in the "snow belt" states. I am.
We have a lot of cars 10 years and older here. I have two.
And I drive all my cars until it takes to much to keep them going. The cars do not rust out as they did in the 70's. My 13 year old is just now showing signs on the outside of rust. That's right if you wash your car a few times each wimter it will last long.

And your second point is also used by the car makers and those against diesel cars in the US. WE to not equate diesel with dirty, poor running cars. That keeps getting shoved in our faces so that the masses will repeat it. That in turn makes the car buyer want to stay away from diesels. That problem has been fixed. And all we here is how the cars in Europe are so much better on diesel.

I'd guess you'd sell more diesel cars than EVs or hybrids.

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By Aloonatic on 3/11/2011 8:28:49 AM , Rating: 2
One thing to bear in mind is that diesels appear to be a kind of niche product in the US, so are priced accordingly, and not particularly competitively.

I just did a quick price comparison on of a forcus zetec (which is what they call their top model for some, confusing reason).

I was lazy and just went with a standard price, changing only the engine:

1.6 100PS Petrol - £13,248
1.6 109PS TDCi Diesel - £14,843
2.0 124PS Petrol - £14,623

So the diesel is ~ £1,600 more than the equivalent petrol, and only slightly more than the more highly powered petrol model. So it seems that the prices of diesels and petrol cars are much closer here, where diesels are more popular, than in the US.

UK dif - ~£1,600
US dif - ~£2,800

The UK figures include VAT (@ 20%) too, which probably make matters worse.

They are much more popular here (I am assuming), mostly because our fuel prices are so high, so the benefits of better mileage pay off more, and I am assuming that prices are only going to go up in the US too, so in those 10 years, the amount you are gaining by having a better MPG car will prob improve too.

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By bah12 on 3/11/2011 9:17:49 AM , Rating: 2
Like I said that is kind of his point. They are very much a niche. As other have said, and perhaps I was not clear, there are many very good benefits to diesel cars and I agree price is not the only motivating factor. However the US market would need a dramatic shift for it to be financially wise for Ford to put much effort forth.

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By Aloonatic on 3/11/2011 10:07:27 AM , Rating: 2
They used to be a niche in the UK/Europe too. As fuel prices rose, they become more attractive and common, however. I'm not sure exactly what is happening in the US at the moment, but I would wager that the fuel price trend is upwards there too.

I don't really see what the "effort" is though, as they are surly going to keep on making diesels to see in the rest of the world, so just bothering to market ad sell them more in the US shouldn't be too hard.

Maybe they just like the bigger margin that they might be making from diesels in the US, assuming that the prices of petrol cars are competitive in the UK and US.

Maybe they think that it's not worth putting whatever effort it is in expanding diesel sales in the US as they think that electric or hybrids are a better way to spend their time/money.

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By Spuke on 3/11/2011 1:53:52 PM , Rating: 2
It's a niche here in the US regardless of the reason otherwise VW diesels would be flying off the lots. Hybrids are more popular here. My reasoning is the price at the pump more than anything. We're very sensitive to gas prices here. People were dumping their SUV's/trucks/cars a few years ago just to get a more fuel efficient car regardless of the fact that a new car plus huge negative equity from the "old" one cost more money than just simply paying more for the gas. My wife got caught up in all of that until I showed her on paper than even though we would increase mpg by 10, overall costs would increase by $300 a month. I told her to simply cut the price difference from somewhere else. She drank a lot of Starbuck's back then so she cut back on that. Problem solved!

Diesel costs more than premium gas here in most places and people see that, the extra cost of the diesel option, do a quick calculation and bam! More money. Even though hybrids cost more, the fuel doesn't plus the mileage is better than diesel so they see that as acceptable (EPA ratings, don't care about your experiences).

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By Keeir on 3/11/2011 2:13:59 PM , Rating: 2
Hybrids are more popular here.

Sigh. I really hate this very common misunderstanding.

Outside the Toyota Prius, Hybrids are not popular here.

Not a single Hybrid Model (outside the Hybrid only Prius, Insight, and CRZ) has a take rate of above 15%.

Diesel models on the other hand, have significant higher take rates.

Sales in 2011

Prius - 24,174
Jetta TDI - 6,342 (Excludes Golf, but includes SportWagen)
Insight - 3,276
Fusion - 2,348
CRZ - 1,985

The Jetta TDI is selling better than the #2 and #3 Hyrbid models in the United States. Throw in the Golf Sales, and the VW 2.0L TDI engine sells better than the Insight + Fusion + CRZ. This is despite comming from an "inferior" manufacturer (VW) and having significantly higher costs than the CRZ and the Insight. (Though the CRZ is certainly a limited appeal model)

By Aloonatic on 3/12/2011 4:36:40 AM , Rating: 2
Diesel cost more than petrol in the UK, yet people are still being tempted into buying a diesel car, especially smaller cars where you can really get some great MPG figures.

As they are more popular there is more competition here, as I showed above, which has affected the price difference between petrol and diesel equivalents. That doesn't exist in the US yet, but I might as fuel prices rise.

They used to be a niche in the UK, hardly anyone drove them when I was a kid, now many people do. That not just because of fuel economy though. They are just a lot better than they used to be in the 80s. A lot quieter and better to drive. However, in recent years, as fuel prices have gotten really high, fuel efficiency has really become a big factor in the purchase decision.

Maybe it's because of the areas that Ford operates in, they don't see much value in diesels? Over here, SUVs and smaller cars are where many people see a real gain in diesel market, and ford don't even seem to be bothered to offer many diesel option that even in the UK, so maybe it's no real surprise tat they really can't be bothered in the US?

Maybe they just see diesel as a short term solution? And want to focus on more long term solutions with electric cars powered in what ever way they decide.

I'm sure that VW etc will be happy that Ford are ignoring this sector.

Anyway, all I was ever saying as that the person who I replayed to seem to assume that the price of diesel cars will remain higher than petrol cars forever. That may not be the case.

I'm not sure if you're being intentionally obtuse, or just ignoring much of what I have said for the fun of it. Either way, I can't be bothered to carry on. :o)

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By Dr of crap on 3/11/2011 9:51:00 AM , Rating: 2
So you would FOR EVs and hybrids then??

The math for these also spells longer ownership to recoup larger cost.

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By bah12 on 3/11/2011 10:49:43 AM , Rating: 2
I'm for return on my investment. So no the EV equation rarely pays off either.

And FYI I actually like diesel, and think that the pros outweigh the cons, but just because a few of us think that way does not a market make :)

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By Dr of crap on 3/11/2011 12:25:58 PM , Rating: 2
There also is no market for EVs, yet they are pushing them on us.
The sales numbers for the Leaf and the Volt so far tell a different story - they're not selling.

So What kind of car should they be marketing for the masses??

I'd go with CNG - we have a lot of it in our own country and it could be had for half the cost of gas.

RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By bah12 on 3/11/2011 1:56:32 PM , Rating: 2
Man what is with all the anti-EV trolling? No one here is claiming that the EV solution is correct either. What the tread is about (regardless of you constantly trying to derail it) is whether ford should go after this market. The OP's contention was that it was stupid for not doing so, mine was that Ford is pretty smart in its non-US diesel position.

As to your question, they should be making the cars that they are currently making. Ford is doing quite well, and have a good bead on the market. If the Apple's/Fords/MS's of the world have taught us anything it is that being the first to push something is meaningless, the true successes wait to see where the market is going and THEN capitalize on it.

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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