Kuzak makes Ford’s case against diesels in the U.S.

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News.

Fuel prices are rising, but more efficient diesel engines remain out of Ford’s U.S. car plans.

During dinner last week in Geneva, Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s group vice president for global product development, made it clear that the automaker isn’t changing its U.S. powertrain strategy. Kuzak had dinner with a handful of European journalists, plus this guy.

Instead of diesels, Kuzak said that Ford will rely on its EcoBoost gasoline engines, which use turbocharging, direct injection and other technologies to boost horsepower and fuel economy.

With rising petroleum prices, one European journalist asked if Ford planned to alter its powertrain strategy and sell cars with diesel engines in the United States. The journalist mentioned that some European automakers offer diesels in the United States.

Kuzak said Ford “could easily bring diesels to the U. S. market.”

Then he quickly added: U.S. “customers, I think, are pragmatic.”

With diesel engines more expensive than gasoline powerplants, and diesel fuel more costly than gasoline in the United States, the payback time for a U.S. driver, he said, would be 10 years.

“It doesn’t make sense. We are not going to force it on customers,” he said, adding that an EcoBoost engine comes close to matching the efficiency of a diesel.

Unlike the luxury brands, Kuzak said Ford’s fuel economy strategy “is driven by affordability.”