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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 omnicronx on 3/10/2011 8:23:02 PM , Rating: 2
I never understood the diesel argument.

Get this through your heads, diesel is only feasible if it remains somewhat of a niche.

The proof is as simple as looking at the oil refinement breakdown.. On average with today's refining tools, you get about half as much diesel fuel as you do gasoline from a single barrel.

This does not even account for the fact that the low sulfur diesel required by government law costs even more to produce or the fact that many governments tax the two products in such a way that diesel is only artificial cheaper from a consumer standpoint. (such as in Europe)

So please explain to everyone why on earth we would ever want to move from one oil based dependency to another that yields less volume per barrel?

Diesel is not a replacement for gasoline period.. maybe the masses will come to terms with this in 2,3 years..


RE: I'd say he is wrong - very wrong.
By Keeir on 3/10/2011 9:25:27 PM , Rating: 4
Only crazy people would think Diesel is a complete replacement for gasoline. Diesel engines can be an effective compliment to Gasoline and Hybrid Gasoline engines.

Your looking at things wrong. When you distill oil, you have the possibility of getting several different mixes of gasoline AND diesel. It is not really possible (not economically viable anyway) to completely get rid of diesel or gasoline. US refiners typically bias their mix towards gasoline. Even biasing the mix, then end up with more Diesel than is typically consumed in the US and the US actually exports Diesel Fuel, especially during summer months when Fuel Oil is in low demand.

The US market light-automobile market could afford to be 10-20% Diesel, which would likely raise the overall efficiency of refineries since I believe a better yielding mix would be used... (I am not an expert on the effects of the different mixes). Having the US transportation fleet be a more effective mix of gasoline and diesel would allow the US to make better use of it existing refineries and stretch the oil. (For example, The Fusion could be 10% Hybrid, 15% Diesel, 25% V6 gasoline and rest I4. This would yield more miles driven on less barrels of oil used) Ironically, the taxing disparities in Europe actually lead to the importation of Diesel fuel... which means some of the Diesel consumed in Europe had very low transportation efficiencies.


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