Print 43 comment(s) - last by superstition.. on Jun 16 at 4:15 PM

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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Why doesn't TDI "work" in America?
By ChemMan on 6/15/2011 3:14:44 PM , Rating: 2
Base model Golf (gas) $17,995 USD
Base model Golf (TDI) $23,225 USD

Base model Jetta (gas) $16,495 USD
Base model Jetta (TDI) $22,995 USD

Base model Passat (gas) $19,995 USD
Base model Passat (TDI) $25,995 USD

The $5,000 price premium removes any point (to me) in buying TDI. It would take the life of the vehicle to recoup the difference in cost. Does the same kind of price premium exist in Europe as well?

RE: Why doesn't TDI "work" in America?
By zzatz on 6/15/2011 4:04:32 PM , Rating: 2
"Financial incentives in Europe favored the use of diesel over gasoline to such an extent that more than 53% of all new cars sold in the European Union in 2007 were diesel cars." -

It's the price premium on gasoline in Europe that allows diesel cars to carry a price premium. Over the life of the car, you'll make up the difference in Europe, but not in the US. There are other factors for the difference in fuel prices, but public policy plays a large part. For all of the people who want European diesels in the US, all we need to do is raise taxes on gasoline and diesels will sell.

By ChemMan on 6/15/2011 5:03:12 PM , Rating: 2
Even if diesel was $2 cheaper than gasoline in Europe it would still take the life of the vehicle to overcome the price difference. Looking at VW's UK website, a base model Golf with a gasoline engine costs 15,685 and a diesel Golf costs 17,100. Seems like a more much more reasonable price difference to me.

By wielander on 6/15/2011 5:06:53 PM , Rating: 2
Those prices are somewhat deceiving; the TDI versions all include some premium options to offset the price difference.

The extra cost doesn't bother me so much because it is there for a reason: you're buying a more substantial piece of machinery. Diesel engines need to be stronger, more heavily built. This is generally understood by the market; TDIs generally last longer and depreciate more slowly.

RE: Why doesn't TDI "work" in America?
By FishTankX on 6/15/2011 6:01:41 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure about europe, but i'd like to pose the idea that it may be worth it anyways, to shell out for a diesel simply because they're known to reach ridiculous mileages.

While you may pay a premium for a vehicle that requires an engine built tougher do deal with the demands diesel places on the system, you do end up getting a tougher engine that with some babying can probably get up to 300-400k. So I think that paying 25% more for an engine that can get anywhere from 50% to 100% more useful life isn't a horrible trade off. After all, the car itself isn't a significant cost in itself in the total lifetime cost equation.

By ChemMan on 6/15/2011 8:55:27 PM , Rating: 2
I completely agree. But I don't think the average American understands or even cares. As long as they can turn the key and it goes, they're completely happy. They'll never understand why it costs more, just that it costs too much. What I'd like to see and think we need over here is a basic and inexpensive diesel car that everyone can afford.

By kmmatney on 6/15/2011 6:05:00 PM , Rating: 2
That's one good thing about the Prius - there's no non-hybrid to compare it directly to, so the price premium is somewhat hidden. It seems to be somewhere between a Corolla and a Camry, IMO.

By superstition on 6/15/2011 7:49:52 PM , Rating: 2
There is a manufacturer that just started selling a diesel version of its car as the base model and the gasoline as the high-end model with all the bells/whistles (options).

VW puts in a lot of mandatory extras so it can raise prices on the TDI. Since VW is basically the only option for those who want "affordable" diesels in the US -- they can manage to put a premium price on these cars.

The fact is, though, that there is a huge variety of diesels in places like the UK in all price ranges and sizes.

By zenom11 on 6/16/2011 11:37:56 AM , Rating: 1
not only ~$5k premium, the cost to drive per mile not a whole lot cheaper too. you can see that diesel tend to cost 10-30% more than reg gas. you may need to own your diesel car more than 10 years at least before you see your early investment comeback to your pocket. bad idea. same as hybrid cars.

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