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2012 VW Passat
2012 Passat TDI will be rated at 31 city, 43 highway

Amidst all of this talk of [relatively] low-displacement turbocharged, gasoline-electric hybrid, and fully electric vehicles, the North American car market seems to have forgotten about turbodiesel engines. Diesels are the go-to solution for getting incredible fuel economy in European vehicles, but the North American auto market doesn't have a wide range of diesel vehicles to choose from (unless you want a full-size pickup). 

However, you can always count of the VW Group to embrace turbodiesel technology and the company offers U.S.-spec Audi and Volkswagen branded vehicles with TDI engines. The latest of these vehicles is the new 2012 Passat TDI.

The Passat TDI features a 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine and starts at $25,995. For the enthusiasts out there, the TDI can be paired with a standard 6-speed manual transmission or an optional 6-speed DSG dual-clutch unit. 

VW says that the Passat TDI will deliver 43 mpg on the highway, giving it a maximum driving range of 800 miles. City fuel economy is a respectable 31 mpg. For comparison, the Toyota Camry Hybrid ($27,050), Hyundai Sonata Hybrid ($25,795), and Ford Fusion Hybrid ($28,600) are rated at 31/35, 35/40, and 41/36 respectively (city/highway).

"The 2012 Passat is a true Volkswagen, offering German engineering, class-leading standard features, and superior fuel economy, all for a remarkable value," said Jonathan Browning, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. "Demonstrating our commitment to the American market, the car will be produced at one of the newest, most advanced, and environmentally responsible auto assembly plants in the world in Chattanooga, Tennessee."

Interestingly, while VW seems to be embracing diesel engines for its passenger vehicles, Ford has no plans to share its European diesel engines with consumers in the U.S.

"[Ford] could easily bring diesels to the U. S. market," said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president for global product development, in March. “It doesn’t make sense. We are not going to force it on customers.”

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Force it on consumers?!
By quiksilvr on 6/15/2011 9:58:17 AM , Rating: 5
It's AN OPTION. Obviously you're not going to have purely diesel versions of a car. You'll have the option to go petrol or diesel.

RE: Force it on consumers?!
By Dr of crap on 6/15/2011 10:14:46 AM , Rating: 3
Yes, and why not give car buyer THAT option?

All I read about is how the US does not want diesels.
Yet VW has sold diesels for many years.

I think it's more involved than then that and I wish they'd give the REAL reason they do not want to offer diesel here.

RE: Force it on consumers?!
By Flunk on 6/15/2011 10:51:45 AM , Rating: 1
Because it would cost more to do it that they'd make back. Shipping extra versions of cars to showrooms that no one wants to buy is very expensive.

RE: Force it on consumers?!
By quiksilvr on 6/16/2011 9:12:01 AM , Rating: 3
That can't be the only reason. It's pretty easy to market these things:

"Hey you want an extra 5-10 mpg?"
*points at diesel car*

RE: Force it on consumers?!
By Iaiken on 6/15/2011 11:21:17 AM , Rating: 5
I think it's more involved than then that and I wish they'd give the REAL reason they do not want to offer diesel here.

Here's the short answer:

Short answer, North American diesel fuel used to be high in sulfur and sulfur dioxide in exhausts is a leading cause of acid rain.

And the long answer:

North American diesel fuel had a typical sulfur count of ~500 ppm while many European fuels had an upper limit on them of 50 ppm with regard to sulfur count since the early 1990's and is now 15 ppm.

The massive difference required European engines and exhaust systems to be redeveloped to cope with the additional sulfur. The interior of the engines themselves would become gummed up with plasticized sulfur over time and emission control devices would be poisoned out by the additional sulfur dioxide in as little as 200 miles.

The refineries in the US/Canada should already be completely converted over to the same 15 ppm standard as Europe as of the end of 2011 and Mexico switched back in 2008.

So basically the door to other companies bringing in unmodified diesels only opened at the start of this model year and it will take some time for them to start entering the market. The TDI engines in post 2009 VW's are identical to those in Germany. Honda, Nissan and Toyota have all announced that they will be bringing over diesels in the light-duty truck and SUV segments. Additionally, Honda will be bringing over a diesel Accord and Subaru will be bringing over boxer diesels across it's entire line.

As for why Chevy and Ford won't bring over their own diesel technologies is anybodies guess.

RE: Force it on consumers?!
By FITCamaro on 6/15/2011 12:39:18 PM , Rating: 2
As for why Chevy and Ford won't bring over their own diesel technologies is anybodies guess.

Can't speak to Ford but GM was told to shelve its 4.5L diesel V8 that it planned to put in light trucks when the government took over.

Our politicians don't want diesel. They want electric.

RE: Force it on consumers?!
By stilltrying on 6/15/2011 1:09:45 PM , Rating: 3
It political. How about a toyota truck (Toyota Hilux) that can last forever and get 30-40mpgs. Outlawed in the states, what does that tell ya.

RE: Force it on consumers?!
By kmmatney on 6/15/2011 6:00:28 PM , Rating: 2
In the states, its called the "Tacoma".

I would provide a wiki link to the Tpyota Hilux, but it gets flagged as spammed. The do offer deisel engines in other countries, though.

RE: Force it on consumers?!
By tyger11 on 6/15/2011 1:27:22 PM , Rating: 2
Diesel in the U.S. went to 35ppm sulphur in 2005 or so. No idea about Mexico, though.

RE: Force it on consumers?!
By djc208 on 6/15/2011 2:58:51 PM , Rating: 2
There is also the issue of emissions regulations. US regs don't differentiate between gas and diesel emissions. And while a diesel is more efficient, the mix of gasses it produces is different (usually more NOx and particulates).

The commercial/HD market is just starting to see tighter emissions regs, which is why the new diesels from Ford and Chevy have to have Eurea injection and advanced catalysts to meet those standards. It's caused a hit in most of their fuel efficiency numbers too.

So while the diesel fuel may be OK for european diesel engines, the emission systems of many would still not meet US spec.

VW had to halt US diesel sales for a year or two till they re-designed the motor to meet the newer emissions standards. BMW went to BlueTech (which is just eurea injection) on their diesels to get there.

The final problem is availability and cost. The higher fuel taxes on diesel are due to the fact that most diesel is used in large commercial trucks, which do a disproportionate amount of damage to the roads. So while diesel is more efficient, it barely offsets the higher cost of the fuel due to the tax structure.

A lesser issue is that diesel is not as readily available as gasoline, you have to pay attention when you start running low on gas, not everywhere in an urban environment has diesel for sale. This could be easily fixed.

RE: Force it on consumers?!
By Samus on 6/15/2011 3:06:03 PM , Rating: 2
It doesn’t make sense. We are not going to force it on customers.

That entire statement is contradicting in that they are forcing customers to use petrol-only engines.

RE: Force it on consumers?!
By 335d on 6/15/2011 7:23:36 PM , Rating: 2
I drove both the VW diesels and the BMW diesels and it is amazing what they have done. My 3 series BMW sedan gets 27 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, crusing at 80 mph. It is also quieter in the cabin versus the petrol version. That was a real surprise.

I'm very much sold on the newer common rail turbo diesel technology. I'm hoping the other manufacturers will bring more of them here to the 'states.

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh

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