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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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By Keeir on 3/11/2011 2:38:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's very difficult to sell Diesels cars in the U.S. because most Americans are technically illiterate.


No. It was difficult to sell Diesels in the US because until recently, gasoline was too cheap to allow Diesel to be a good option.

A Diesel Engine costs around 2,500 more than an equivalent gasoline engine. (Create an equivalent driving experience in more conditions) The Diesel Engine will cost around 15-20% less to operate per mile. Lets go with 15%. (Mileage is 25%, but fuel filters, different oil, higher fuel prices, etc) For a Diesel Engine to make sense, people need to be able to save around 250 dollars year on Fuel (preferably 300). This implies a person needs to be spending ~1,700 dollars on gasoline fuel a year.

When gasoline was 1.50 a gallon (not too long ago), this was 1,130 gallons! Or like 25,000+ miles a year. As more than twice the average distance, this would be a very small subset of the population.

Today, with gasoline prices at 3.50 a gallon, this is only 485 gallons, or enough to travel ~13,000 miles a year. A relatively large number of people (me includeed) travel 15,000+ miles a year.

As fuel prices continue to rise, Diesel will make more and more sense to a larger portion of the population.


"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007

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