Posted by: Gail Edmondson on December 1, 2006
This year’s Los Angeles Auto show is like a debutante’s ball for automakers eager to display the charms of their new green technologies. Mercedes, Volkswagen and Honda are all betting that diesel will win US converts when the word finally gets out about the great fuel mileage, the low emissions and the terrific torque. After all, more than 50% of new cars sold in Europe are diesel. You can’t succeed anymore in the European auto market without a robust lineup of cutting-edge diesel engines. Consumers know these cars are a “best buy.”
The conventional wisdom is that it will take years for diesel to take off in the US — based on old images of dirty belching cars. I think that’s short-sighted. I bet the buzz about clean diesel will ricochet around the US market as fast as the buzz about Toyota’s hybrid Prius. That was about 18 months. Why should it take longer? After all, oil prices are high and not coming down. Mercedes Diesel E class costs only $1,000 more than a regular E class. A Lexus GS sedan costs $10,000 more than the gasoline version. American consumers are not dumb. I’m betting they will make a beeline for new diesels. Any takers?