Friday, March 06, 2009

There's a diesel Fiesta in Europe

...and you're not invited, American. You can't have it. It gets 65 mpg and does 0-60 in 12 seconds, which is plenty fast when you're getting 65 mpg (up to 73 mpg on the highway). It's called the Ford Fiesta ECOnetic, and it is an updated version for this year of the popular Ford Fiesta diesel that has been available in Europe for years. In fact, the existing European diesel Ford Fiesta is so popular, it has fan clubs (including a Croatian chapter). Can you imagine fan clubs for the Ford Fiesta in the United States? Please... but if we had the diesel model here (which has been an option in Europe and many other places around the world since 1983), you might see just that, especially among the biodiesel/veggie oil set!

But the Ford Fiesta is just the tip of the iceburg when it comes to the diesel party in Europe involving American-made-and-branded cars. The Chrysler corporation (formerly Daimler-Chrysler) offers a dozen Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep models for sale in Europe that feature diesel engines and -- get this -- achieve over 35 mpg on average! I mean, just think about that -- it's no secret that I think that Chryslers and Dodges are some of the worst vehicles on the road, with abysmal fuel economy and horrible maintenance histories. Yet, you slap a Mercedes diesel under the hood, and all of a sudden those vehicles don't look like such dogs any longer. Heck, a diesel Jeep sounds like a downright cool vehicle -- not as a daily driver, perhaps, but certainly for, you know, off-road excursions, snowy adventures, etc... especially a diesel Jeep with a Mercedes diesel under the hood! (Note: Some of the vehicles also feature the supremely efficient Volkswagen diesels.) From the U.S. perspective, it was certainly hard to see any effect that the partnership with Mercedes had on Chrysler during its duration -- but once you learn of these models, it all becomes clear. But, why can't we get those vehicles in the United States?

The automakers will claim that, due to California and EPA emissions requirements, they can't make a diesel clean enough to meet U.S. regulations. I call bullshit. I think there's something else going on -- they're afraid to sell such efficient vehicles here, because it might prove that they can actually make really efficient vehicles if they want to, and if Congress ever finds out, they might require the U.S. fleet to achieve vastly better fuel economy than 35 mpg by the year 2020... something that the U.S. auto industry is, strangely, opposed to.

I expect this to all change within the next couple of years, however. By 2011, I predict that we will begin to see a whole new array of high-mileage clean diesel vehicles that get much more than 35 mpg sold in the United States.

Heck, maybe one of them will even be a diesel-electric hybrid!


TP said...

In France, more than half the cars are diesel. I rented a big Volvo wagon there last summer (for 4 people and gear). While I didn't do the math (converting km per litre into mpg), it was clear from how far a tank of fuel went that the mileage was great, even in a car w/ luxurious size and power. Prices equivalent to >$10 per gallon provide real incentive, and in a generation really change both attitudes & the vehicle fleet. Beefy French farmers are driving mini-cars, while their American counterparts drive F-150s.

Garlynn Woodsong said...

I don't have a problem with the F-150 conceptually... it's the truck that built this country. I just think it should have a 4-banger diesel option, and it should get 40 mpg.... at least 35. Actually, Mahindra might deliver just that in 2010:

Also, I hear that Volvo may be bringing a diesel version of every single one of their models to market soon...and some of those may wind up in the U.S. market, if they can get the EPA to agree to their NOx solution:


Dental Care said...

hello, I think diesel is a great start to combustible prices, and in Europe this is no exception, thanks for sharing the article!

Kristoff said...

Nice article. I've been pushing for diesel here in the US for years. Hybrids are a joke considering slapping a diesel in the same vehicle would show the same, if not better fuel mileage. If you tell Americans they'll get better fuel mileage AND horsepower, the other theory of "Americans don't want diesel" is a joke also. Half of Americans want stupid SUVs and trucks so they "feel safe" while the other half just want to save money on fuel. I've also heard that we don't have the infrastructure (ie. diesel is available to only about 90% of gas stations instead of 100%). This too is a BS excuse. And the whole emissions thing? I don't know. I've heard about this, but I've also heard that European emissions are actually stricter than ours. But then again, I've heard also it costs about $2,000 more per car for a diesel to meet emissions specs here. I say diesel is just a damn good idea, and someone is going to get the point while the rest hustle to catch up. If I were to guess, VW may be that company, or we all may just skip directly to electric.

Anyone on Facebook can check out my group titled "Give Americans Diesel Cars!" if they'd like.