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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 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 ford.co.uk 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
quote:
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.

http://www.hybridcars.com/hybrid-clean-diesel-sale...

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)


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