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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 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

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke
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