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Automakers Plan More Diesels for the U.S. Market

January 19, 2006

After years of squabbling among automakers, oil companies and regulators, technology and the demand for better fuel economy have progressed enough to make diesels more attractive, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press.Once a sooty scourge of American roads, diesels could be making their way back into the U.S. market, Toyota Motor Co. is considering a diesel option for its new full-size pickup to launch later this year, and several automakers including General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Co. are looking into possibly using diesel for some of its future models.Meanwhile, Volkswagen AG, which has been one of the few automakers to stick with diesels in the U.S., is enjoying an 8.7 percent sales increase from last year even as its overall sales fell. Its diesel version of the VW Jetta accounted for 30 percent of its sales last year.DaimlerChrysler AG unveiled a new line of diesel engines at last week’s auto show in Detroit that they said would meet all current emissions standards, which will allow it to sell them in all 50 states by last year.In Europe, customer demand for fuel economy, favorable tax treatments and durability cause automakers to put diesel engines in half of all vehicles sold.In the U.S., stricter air pollution regulation has severely limited how many diesels manufacturers can sell. The major barrier to cleaner-running diesels has been the amount of sulfur in diesel fuel, which plays havoc with emissions systems. New federal rules drastically cutting sulfur in fuels go into effect later this year, and most fuel companies are expected to have low-sulfur diesel on the market in a matter of months.
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