Diesel Revolution in the United States

By: Lauren Woods

As consumers face rising prices of gasoline, many have already abandoned their plans to purchase large vehicles such as SUVs and pickups in favor of smaller vehicles such as sedans and crossovers. This demand has led car manufacturers to invest in the research and development of alternative technologies to make their production vehicles as gas thrifty as they can while still offering a good level of performance.

For the past years, the hybrid technology has been the favorite of environment and gas price conscious car buyers. Aside from hybrid technology, flex-fuel vehicles also gained momentum. These vehicles are designed to run on gasoline or a combination of gasoline and bio-ethanol. While these vehicles are designed to be environment-friendly, the scarcity of refueling stations offering E85 has led flex-fuel owners to use plain gasoline thereby defeating the environmental purpose of their vehicles. In fact, in a recent study it was found out that 99 percent of flex-fuel vehicles on the roads of the United States are still using conventional gasoline for fuel. This issue has led to the rise in the popularity of diesel engines.

It can be remembered that the American public has shunned diesel engines since in the 1980's diesel engines are known for their loud noise and huge amount of soot produced. In fact, diesel engines received a very bad reputation that it was even believed that diesel engines will not become popular in the United States. Overseas though, European car manufacturers have been investing in harnessing the power of the diesel engine and has succeeded in producing diesel engines with noise and emission similar to that of a gasoline engine.

The popularity of the diesel engine in Europe is evident in the fact that even the German luxury carmaker Audi has produced a diesel powered luxury car. The massive torque produced by these engines gives good acceleration which is common on high performance cars such as that produced by Audi. This acceleration provided by these new-generation diesel engines is not lagging behind the performance of gasoline engined vehicles that are equipped with aftermarket parts such as the system.

After the European auto industry has succeeded in producing clean diesel engines, Americans' view of the engine changed. In fact, Ford has introduced a heavy-duty pickup truck equipped with diesel engines. The diesel engine used by Ford on the Ford Super Duty is proven to produce gas emissions similar to that of a gasoline engine. Furthermore, precision engineering has led to a quieter operation for the diesel engine. Another good thing about diesel engines is that they consume less fuel than gasoline engine. Diesel fuel is also less expensive than gasoline which makes it more appealing as the prices of gasoline once again reached the three dollar mark.

The increasing popularity of diesel engines has led to European and Japanese car manufacturers expressing their intention to introduce diesel engined vehicles in the United States auto market come the year 2008. Mercedes-Benz is one of these car manufacturers set to introduce diesel versions of their models such as the M Class, R Class and the GL Class.

Another European car company in the form of BMW is also slated to introduce diesel vehicles in the United States auto market next year. Volkswagen, the German car manufacturer has already introduced diesel vehicles n the United States but is expected to introduce a cleaner diesel engine which it calls "Blue Motion". As far as the Japanese are concerned, Nissan reported that they will be coming out with a diesel version of their best selling Altima sedan in the near future.

As the number of diesel powered vehicles to be released in the United States auto market increases, the oil industry is responding with positive support. The Marathon Oil Corp. recently announced that they will be investing a total of $3.2 billion in a refinery that will produce clean diesel. Currently, only 42 percent of the fuel refilling stations in the United States offer diesel. The investment made by Marathon shows that the oil industry is supporting the increasing popularity of diesel among the American car buying public. With the auto and oil industry working together it will only be a matter of time before diesel engines become more popular than gasoline engines.

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