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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 Keeir on 3/10/2011 7:43:17 PM , Rating: 2
I can understand his view point from one perspective however.

Ford has created the "best" midsized Hybrid, the Fusion. It gets tremendous fuel economy, looks like a normal Fusion, and gets pretty positive reviews for driving experience. Even though it gets almost 50% better mileage than a I4 Fusion and 70% better milegage than a V6, they sell less hybrids than V6 models. Significantly less. (I believe the Split goes something like >60% I4, >30% V6, <10% Hybrid). And the V6 models are not cheap either.

Looking at that, its hard to imagine that an American consumer is willing to spend the money required for a Diesel Engine.

I think however he is wrong.

Americans have shown they are willing to pay for VW's TDI in astonishing numbers (Take rates of 25%+). One reason is that VW didn't go all out after fuel economy. They kept the TDI in the same performance range (especially in low rev driving) as the existing gasoline models. Don't believe me? Go drive back to back the 2.5L VW gasoline engine and the 2.0L TDI VW engine. Not only does the 2.0L TDI deliever better fuel economy, it is also the "larger" feeling engine. Is it the same thing as the 2.0L Turbo Gasoline VW? No, performance wise, it is lacking significantly, but Diesel is not being positioned as the "fuel saving choice" but the "better than normal performace+great mileage" choice.

I think this position could work for most if not all US manufacturers... at least to better take rates than the Hybrids models.


RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By YashBudini on 3/11/2011 12:46:54 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Americans have shown they are willing to pay for VW's TDI in astonishing numbers (Take rates of 25%+). One reason is that VW didn't go all out after fuel economy.


I recall not so long ago driving past a truck stop that posted diesel @ $5.009

So much for memory.

quote:
they sell less hybrids than V6 models


You wonder if that comes from past experience with shaky 4 bangers and if the buyers even bothered to test drive the 4 cyl. A friend switched back from a 6 to a 4 after a pleasant test drive. Of course the salesperson won't sway you and they may believe the hybrid is a tough sell. The base price difference of the I4 and the hybrid is $8520. You can get a sport version for what the hybrid costs.

Too bad Ford doesn't offer the sport version with the smaller six. Those that want the sport model have no engine choices at all.


RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By Keeir on 3/11/2011 2:00:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I recall not so long ago driving past a truck stop that posted diesel @ $5.009


Why do people persist in wanting to talk about small scale evidence when we already know what the country has on average?

http://www.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/pet_pri_gnd_dcus_n...

On Highway Diesel is arund the same price as Premium Gasoline.

In Feburary, Take Rates for TDI version of VW products was still greater than 25%+

quote:
You can get a sport version for what the hybrid costs.


No... not really. Sure for an initial purchase price. But after 150,000 miles, the Hybrid will be 15,000 dollars cheaper. The Hybrid is the Lowest TCO engine choice the Fusion has... if you equip the I4 anywhere near the Hybrid levels.

The Fusion Hybrid is the best "value" in the Fusion line-up. For it to be selling so much less than the V6 model must be very discouraging for Ford.


RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By Spuke on 3/11/2011 3:21:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Americans have shown they are willing to pay for VW's TDI in astonishing numbers (Take rates of 25%+).
And before the DSG, VW had high takes rate for manual transmissions too. Something that was definitely NOT representative of typical American buying habits. I still can't figure how you equate Americans wanting diesel by using numbers from sales of a niche automaker. VW does not represent, in any way, shape or form the car buying habits of the American buying public. A more accurate picture would've been if Honda had went through with the diesel Accord (because Honda actually sells cars that millions of people buy not what a couple of people buy). If the diesel take rate was high with the Accord, then other automakers would definitely follow suit. I'm sure that Ford is watching VW's diesel sales very closely. It's just not there. People don't want to pay MORE at the pump and MORE for the diesel option. No one cares about the extra torque here either. Despite what the clueless and the EU thinks, Americans could care less about power/torque. We just want to get up to freeway speeds in a decent amount of time and have enough room for our kids and stuff.

I'm a car guy and my wife is not. She's in the market for another car and can't figure out what she wants. Her list is as follows:

1. BMW 335i coupe or sedan
2. Ford Edge
3. Ford Explorer
4. Ford Focus
5. Honda Accord coupe

She's all over the place! That's typical. I already know what my next car is going to be long BEFORE decide I buy it. That's niche.


RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By Keeir on 3/11/2011 4:16:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
We just want to get up to freeway speeds in a decent amount of time and have enough room for our kids and stuff.


Go drive the 2.5L Golf versus the 2.0L TDI Golf. Tell me which engine you would prefer.

quote:
1. BMW 335i coupe or sedan


BMW sells nearly as many 335d sedans as 335i sedans.

Spuke. I main this point in another post, but I will do so again.

The Ford Fusion Hybrid is a fanstastic macine. It has superior driving experience to the I4, great feature set, and has outstanding mileage.

In Febuary 2011, Ford Sold 23,111 Fusions and 1,775 MKZs
http://media.ford.com/images/10031/Feb11sales.pdf

In Feburary 2011, Ford Sold 1,379 Fusion Hybrids and 395 MKZ hybrids.
http://www.hybridcars.com/hybrid-clean-diesel-sale...

Thats take rates of 5.9% and 22.2% respectively.

Yet you Champion Hybrids as popular options in the US.

While I agree, a mainstream automaker will not have the same take rate on a Diesel Option as VW does... VW's Jetta however has a ~35% take rate (if you include all Jetta nameplates and exclude Golf + GTI nameplates). Thats at least 6 times greater than Ford's take rate on the Fusion Hybrid.

If Ford could sell a 2.2L or so Diesel in its Fusion model line without Adblue. I think Ford would see a take rate around 10% (less than 1/3 VW's take rate). The model would outsell the Hybrid every month by a significant margin.


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