Americans don't do diesel, or so we've been told. At the same time that hybrids have become the darling here in the United States, cars with even more impressive fuel efficiency and no need for battery packs are being produced by the big three in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.
The new diesel version of the Ford Fiesta being sold in the UK gets 65 mpg. But it's not for us.
Yet while half of all cars sold in Europe last year ran on diesel, the U.S. market remains relatively unfriendly to the fuel. Taxes aimed at commercial trucks mean diesel costs anywhere from 40 cents to $1 more per gallon than gasoline. Add to this the success of the Toyota Prius, and you can see why only 3% of cars in the U.S. use diesel. "Americans see hybrids as the darling," says Global Insight auto analyst Philip Gott, "and diesel as old-tech."
.... At prevailing exchange rates, the Fiesta ECOnetic would sell for about $25,700 in the U.S. By contrast, the Prius typically goes for about $24,000. A $1,300 tax deduction available to buyers of new diesel cars could bring the price of the Fiesta to around $24,400. But Ford doesn't believe it could charge enough to make money on an imported ECOnetic.
Ford plans to make a gas-powered version of the Fiesta in Mexico for the U.S. So why not manufacture diesel engines there, too? Building a plant would cost at least $350 million at a time when Ford has been burning through more than $1 billion a month in cash reserves. Besides, the automaker would have to produce at least 350,000 engines a year to make such a venture profitable. "We just don't think North and South America would buy that many diesel cars," says Fields....
It's time that the government and industry step in to educate the public about the benefits of clean diesel tech, and how in the end it's much more economically and environmentally viable then hybrid technology. Look at this car, this ain't no Smart car, this is a real alternative to gas guzzlers, which compared to this car includes the Toyota Prius.
I'm sorry to say it but hybrids have become status symbols that have gotten in the way of other viable technologies that require far less retooling of the US auto industry.