Serves the Commercial Small Fleet Market of 10 – 50 Vehicles

New Rules May Give Diesel Vehicles a Needed Boost

December 15, 2003

The vast majority of Americans are satisfied with cars and sport utility vehicles powered by gasoline. In contrast to Europe, where diesel car sales are skyrocketing, Americans have shown little interest. But that may start to change, according to the Detroit News.The biggest plus for diesel cars is fuel economy, which can be as much as 30 percent higher than comparably sized gasoline models, the News said. Since this advantage increases with vehicle weight, the fuel economy benefits for diesel SUVs, pickups and minivans are even greater.The potential efficiency advantage is nearly as much as one would get by switching to a gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle -- an alternative that is slowly gaining acceptance -- but with less sticker shock, according tyo the \News."Diesels are approaching 50 percent market penetration in Europe," Gary Smyth of General Motors noted at a recent Washington conference held by the Diesel Technology Forum, an industry coalition. But in this country, diesels have yet to crack 1 percent of thepassenger vehicle market, the News reported.Tough new EPA vehicle standards demand sharpreductions in the emissions of pollutants and apply equally to gasoline and diesel powered vehicles. In other words, regulators aren't going to cut diesels any slack for their superior mileage, the News said. Nonetheless, technological advances have reduced diesel emissions enough that at least some manufacturers plan to introduce 2004-compliant diesel versions of popular models, including DaimlerChrysler's Jeep Liberty andthe Mercedes E-Class sedan, according to the News.
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